The future of food is going to get weird. There’s really no way around that if we want to shift our planet to more sustainable methods of production, likely meaning more reliance on ground-up insects and plant derivatives.
But “weird” is a matter of perspective. If you grew up with the idea that a textured green edible orb isn’t a strange selection for dinner, future foods—specifically ones that generate less food waste and require far fewer resources like fresh water—might seem just as appetizing as a sizzling ribeye. (Meat being notoriously water-intensive, with an estimated 1,800 gallons of water required to produce each pound of beef.)
To kickstart this process of normalizing the currently abnormal, agency Forsman & Bodenfors in Sweden led the creation of a colorful set of 3-D printed toys that it’s calling “Play Food From the Future.” The creations, and the video below featuring kids’ responses to them, are a promotion for the WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award and its current theme of sustainable food.
The project—developed in close partnership with scientist Ingrid Strid at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science—highlights the sustainability award’s focus this year on eliminating food waste, which is a key aspect of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The UN has set a goal to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.
This year’s recipient of the Sweden-based sustainability award is French politician Arash Derambarsch, who led the creation of a French law that prohibits French grocers and restaurants from throwing out unsold food, instead requiring them to partner with food banks or similar nonprofits.
“Play Food From the Future” aims to raise awareness of how this issue will manifest in the coming years, as food scientists develop new ways to grow, harvest, process and sell more sustainable food items.
The future-food items were conceptualized by Forsman & Bodenfors Sweden’s design and strategy wing, Happy F&B, and then developed for 3-D printing in collaboration with Cheil Nordic. The 3-D designs are available for free download on PlayFoodFromtheFuture.com.
Here’s how the creators summarize each of the food concepts:
The Algae Ball: On tomorrow’s menu, you’ll 0ind a slightly different meatball – the algae ball! You see, algae are not only green underwater things. It’s actually delicious, nutritious and climate-friendly food! Filled with yummy vitamins, protein, and minerals. A great meal for the planet and for your tummy.
Bug Mac: What has six legs and goes well with fries? The ingredients in the Bug Mac, of course. It may look like your average toy burger, but the patty isn’t CO2-packed beef but eco-friendly, protein-filled and fat-free bugs. Yuck? No, this is truly a happy meal!
Tasty Waste: OK kids, dads, and moms! Rule No. 1: Stop wasting food. Both play food and real food. Giving left-overs and food waste, of all kinds, new life is a must if we want to preserve the environment when Mother Earth’s population is growing. So take what’s left on the plates and make new dishes. Or as we call it – Tasty Waste. Bon Appetit, little food savers of the world!
Power Powder: What? Can you eat a cloud? Sure you can. And in the future, it should be in all our kitchens. Not only the kids’ play kitchen, like with this toy, but also the grown-up’s serious kitchen. You see, this particular little cloud is one powerful meal replacement. A powder that includes everything a healthy diet needs – protein, carbs, unsaturated fats and all the minerals and vitamins you need.
The Mighty Bean: We’re gonna spill the beans. This little guy might save us all. Because beans have secret powers, crucial for making our food more sustainable. They’re nutritious, they can be grown almost anywhere and last but not least – they’re cheap. To show these three components, this toy bean is like a Russian doll. A bean, in a bean, in a bean! That’s one mighty bean.
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