Insight article

Visions of the Future: Food of the Future

September 26th, 2018: What are you cooking today?

Well – here’s a recipe for you.


  • 9.1 billion people, the world’s projected population by 2050;
  • 25% of farmland worldwide: the proportion that’s now highly degraded, subject to soil erosion, water degradation, and biodiversity loss;
  • 8% of farmland worldwide: the proportion that’s now moderately degraded;
  • The year 2023: the year that the population in China, India, and Africa will constitute over half the world’s population;
  • 63kg of meat per year – as of 2016, the average meat consumption per capita per annum in China.

Heat by 2.6 degrees Celsius: the upper-bound estimate, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of how much the earth might warm by 2050: the year that Oxfam estimate that the world will no longer be able to produce enough food to feed itself.

This recipe doesn’t come with a picture, but, to conjure up a vision of the future presented by this slow-cooking combination, imagine 379 Big Macs.

Then try and imagine 379 billion Big Macs (more burgers, incidentally, than McDonalds has cooked up in its entire existence).

Then try to imagine – if you can – a world that’s short of 379 billion Big Macs. Each year.

That’s the vision of the future outlined by Ms. Sara Menker, founder and Chief Executive of Gro Intelligence. When will our collective meal be ready? Cooking time for this unique recipe: uncertain, but take out and try any time between 2023 and 2050.

There’s a recipe for you.

September 26th, 2020: What are you cooking today?

Here’s another recipe for you (innovative business partner required):

  • Take the world’s favourite foods – anything you like;
  • Pass favourite foods through 3D scanner, pressure sensor, and MRI scanner. Record texture, density, moisture content, visual data, and flavour in database;
  • Repeat for all favourite foods until your database contains all one could possibly want to feed the world;
  • Save database to a USB stick (yes: this vision of the future features fast food, too);
  • Insert USB into USB port on specialist 3D pixel food printer;
  • Select chosen meal;
  • Download chosen meal – and enjoy!

Imagine cooking from a computer. Imagine food that requires minimal – if any – farmland. Imagine a kitchen that requires not a gas-guzzling oven, but just your laptop and a 3D printer. Imagine a vision of the future where you can send your dinner via email, your breakfast from your smartphone – from folder to fork in minutes. Imagine a vision of the future where feeding the world doesn’t cost the world.

There’s a recipe for you.

If we want to combat climate change and ensure a sustainable future for the world, altering agricultural practice is imperative. Currently, 75% of our food can be sourced back to only 12 plants and 5 animal species, while global calorific demand continues to increase relentlessly with population increase.

Unsurprisingly, this will cease to be sustainable unless new nutritional sources are discovered or found. That doing so is increasingly imperative has been amply documented, with a range of reports – from Gro Intelligence to Oxfam – offering grave estimates of the risk posed by imminent food insecurity: 2023? 2030? 2050?

However, panic is premature. The power of human ingenuity is being devoted – with alacrity – to the task, with the Open Meals project one example of the attempt to combine new technology and ingenious innovation in ways that safeguard a prosperous future for humanity.

Futuristic and cutting-edge though this vision is, those behind Open Meals envisage a world where a meal can be downloaded and printed as easily as a PDF from a USB, combining big data, food analysis, and 3D printing technology to try and ensure that – no matter how much land we lose – the world stays fed, full – and, we hope – cool.

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Which story will move you and the people around you to do great things in 2018? Share your story with us. 

Jack Moran