14 July 2012

Brave New Cuisine: Eating Bugs and Molecules

The ability to feed our population is incredibly important.... Land-use for meat could be cut by 90% which would drastically lower greenhouse gas emissions from cattle. There would also be no need for large-scale transport. Post hopes one day each kitchen would be capable of making its own meat. _Molecular Food and Lab Grow Meat - Cosmos

Kitchen grown meat, synthetic molecular food, and insect farms -- O brave new world, that has such cuisine in it!

The population of the Earth's third world is growing rapidly -- particularly in Africa. North America, Oceania, and Europe will probably have no problem feeding themselves for the foreseeable future. But in the face of relatively high birthrates, and decreasing aid from the developed world, Africa and parts of Asia and Latin America may be pushed to the limits by even occasional revolutions, insurrections, and bad growing seasons.

Food scientists have been hard at work devising methods to feed parts of the world which may run short from time to time. Building insect farms is one of the proposed approaches:
Today’s insect farms primarily serve the pet food and bait markets. In the U.S., they produce enough food to keep approximately 13.6 million pet frogs, toads, and lizards satisfied, but humans tend to have bigger appetites, and there are a lot more of us. In the future, we will not only need far more insect farms; we will need bigger, more productive farms as well.

...There will also be a great demand for processing—increasing shelf life, ensuring product safety and consistency, and, most of all, making mealworms and crickets look and feel and taste a little less like mealworms and crickets. While many people may never eat insects even after they’ve been beheaded, declawed, and dewinged, they might eat insect flour or sports bars fortified with insect protein. _Reason

Another approach to brave new foods, is molecular cuisine -- as in synthesized food, a la Star Trek.
Molecular gastronomy in the lab can also lead to new, and rather odd, combinations on the plate. It turns out that foods that go well together often contain the same aroma molecule, as do fish and chips and, surprisingly, coffee and garlic.

...rather than growing meat from a complex set of compounds, Post’s lab uses cow stem cells. These cells are given the right nutrients to grow within the lab to create tissue. So far meat has grown into small strips about 3cm long, meaning around 3,000 of these will be needed to make the long-anticipated hamburger. _Cosmos
This is just the beginning, of course. If chemical engineers can make gasoline, diesel, plastics, and high value chemicals from garbage and biomass waste, it is likely that they can also learn to make edible food from the same materials.

Such skills will be invaluable for generational space missions, or for permanent manned space colonies far from Earth. Clever chefs can make just about anything taste good, given the right spices -- synthetic or natural.

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Blogger Matt M said...

Pringles Insect Chips!

Now avaiable in Grasshopper, Preying Mantis, Green Chilli Cockroach and new Cheesy Grub!

Monday, 16 July, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bet you can't eat just one" is a pretty easy bet to win if each chip is made of a couple dozen of them.

Monday, 16 July, 2012  

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