New York’s Terreform ONE has developed a futuristic modular shelter and cricket farm, crowned with spiky quills, ideal for cultivating high-protein crickets that can be ground into flour.
“You can see protein changing because it can be produced inside cities,” said Mitchell Joachim, Terreform co-founder.
“It makes a lot of sense to do it in the case of insects—pound for pound it’s a crushing difference. It’s almost 1,000 times less water, 300 times less carbon. It’s incredibly cheap to make bugs in cities,” he added.
Affordable pricing and astute marketing are key to convincing consumers to try radically new foods, particularly as they find it harder to ignore the ethical and environmental impact of their purchases.
“It’s always money; it’s availability,” said Morgaine Gaye, a food futurologist. “We’d like to think it’s about how good it tastes, but that’s actually pretty far down the line as you’ve got to get someone to pick it off the shelf.”
The “celebrity cool factor” can make a big difference to sales, if companies can get stars to endorse brands, she added.
Despite the buzz around future foods, countries could still manage to meet growing demand and environmental targets using what we eat today if they make key changes to the food system, said Lorenzo Giovanni Bellù, a senior economist with the FAO.
Methods like precision agriculture, tailored to the exact requirements of crops, could make production more efficient, while using more renewable energy would cut carbon emissions, said Bellù.
Diets also need to become better balanced to cut over-eating, especially of meat, while increasing the amount of animal protein available to the poor, he added.
Many simple solutions exist that can harness what the world already knows, he emphasized, including adapting existing technologies for poorer countries.
“We have a lot of things to do before eating insects,” he said.