Food For The Twenty-First Century

  By VennerRoad, 28th Jul 2015

Will Monsanto be the future of farming and feeding an increasing global population, or are there alternatives?

Aquaponics in Bangladesh.

There are now over well over seven billion people on this planet, and one of the problems of the immediate future is likely to be how to feed them. Ignoring often contrived and politically motivated claims about the extent of world hunger, what is the best approach? Broadly speaking there are two: Monsanto (or something of that nature) and local production. Arguably the most alluring of the second is aquaponics. If you haven’t heard of it before, it is hydroponics with fish. Hydroponic foods have been around for a long time but have often been criticised for lack of both nutritional value and taste. The reason for this is that simply growing plants in water loses out on nutrients. Adding fish to the equation - typically catfish or koi carp - bridges that gap, creating a perfectly sustained mini-ecosystem, as well as adding another food to the menu.

So what foods can be grown with aquaponics? That depends on how big is your set up, but typically capsicum, celery, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, leafy stuff like lettuce, herbs, even root vegetables like potatoes; rice, mushrooms, and various fruits. And don’t forget the fish!

What if not simply every city or major town but every village, every hamlet, had its own aquaponics farm? There is no reason they could not be situated on the flat roofs of tall buildings and run off a combination of solar and wind power.

Whatever the future of aquaponics, there is an emerging consensus that in the future we are going to have to eat less meat. For dedicated meat eaters that may not be such a bad idea, especially if someone comes up with a way to make vegetables taste like lamb or beef. Well, someone has, in particular Barry Honeycombe. He works in the computer industry, but for personal reasons began experimenting with vegan recipes, and what he came up with is revolutionary. In his own words he uses:

“wheat protein, as that provides the texture...burgers a blend of the protein with creamy cannellini beans, flavoured with herbs de Provence, ketchup, capers, garlic etc...sausage rolls and...lorne sausages...made with a softer and less chewy meat which is flavoured with smoked apples, sage and fennel seeds...veg lamb casserole...flavoured with all the tastes that you would associate with lamb such as rosemary, redcurrants, mint, garlic, and then slow braised in a rich, full-bodied vegan red wine with carrots, celery and beans.”

At present he is running a small company based in South East London which caters to the local area and also sells by mail order. There may well be other people out there who have similar ideas.

One other thing that should be mentioned is printed foods. These exist already, although 3D printers are creating original shapes but not original foods, however, they will very likely be supplemented at some point with other technologies, certainly it will be possible eventually to print meat or something similar.

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