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Insects, 4D printing and molecular whisky: The future of food

How we grow, harvest, prepare and eat food is rapidly and radically changing, as we increasingly understand how our diets can be better tailored for optimal health, according to a food futurist.

Insects, 4D printing and molecular whisky: The future of food
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While dinners in 2025 will look a lot like what we eat now, the technologies and ingredients used to produce them will be vastly different, argued Futurist for Food specialist Tony Hunter.

This is due to “game-changing technology that is revolutionising the food production sector”, he noted, such as 4D printing of plant-based steaks and pizza dough — which is already happening — and cellular agriculture, which produces traditional animal products without the use of the animal, such as cell-based steak and bluefin tuna.

The advantage, compared to our more traditional foods, he posited, is that their nutritional profile can be tailored. For example, for low cholesterol or fewer saturated fats and more unsaturated fats.

Some of the future foods we are already starting to see in Australia, he outlined, include cricket insect powder (made from dried and ground crickets, as a superior protein source and which is used in pasta, bread and energy bars), vertically indoor-farmed fresh fruit and vegetables (using no sunlight or soil), insect snacks and gourmet raw insects, and premium molecular whisky (made overnight and already selling in US bars).

Speaking to Wellness Daily, Mr Hunter outlined what such developments mean for our future diets.

“In Western culture, we’ve come to view food as ‘fuel’, whereas Eastern cultures have a long history of also seeing food as medicine or, as we call them, nutraceuticals. Once we fully understand our individual genomes and microbiome, our diets can be tailored for optimal health,” he explained.

No one “diet” fits all, he ceded, as ongoing research into our genome and microbiome shows.

“This work is in the early stages and is currently at best about ‘probabilities’ that a food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for us. It’s not new, but be careful of ‘fad diets’; what works for one person may not work for you! Make incremental changes to include more plant-based foods in your diet.”

To those who are reluctant to embrace some of these new-age diets and foodstuffs, Mr Hunter said that we must be adventurous.

“Try some of the new plant-based meat and other products, there’s some truly good alternatives out there and better ones coming. Experiment until you find the ones you like and use them as a regular alternative to current animal products,” he said.

“We’re only going to get better at predicting what’s good and bad for individuals and offering tailored products to meet their requirements. It’s an exciting time as we move to understanding how food can be as much a ‘medicine’ as ‘fuel’.”