The Future

Future of Food: Science or Fiction?

How will the human race feed itself in the distant future? If we look to science fiction for answers, we find ideas that range from the gruesome to the downright ludicrous, but some of them are closer to reality than you might think.

In most fictional post-dystopian worlds, steak isn’t on the menu anymore. Instead, our heroes of the future find themselves eating things we today would barely recognise as food – often something akin to the nutrient-rich “bowl of snot” waiting for Neo once he escapes The Matrix.

Perhaps this forecast isn’t surprising, given the modern-day challenges of rising world populations and a changing climate. We’re already seeing shifts in the way people think about food, with vegan diets and meat substitutes growing hugely in popularity across Europe over the last few years,1 but science fiction imagines we might see some slightly more radical shifts in what’s on the menu in future. Just how realistic are they?

'It's okay to dream a little' | Eating insects in Blade Runner 

'A 'miracle food'... high-energy plankton' | Thinking Small in Soylent Green

'The logic is undeniable' | Farming Fungi in I, Robot

'No eyes or beak…they don’t need those' | Growing Meat in Oryx and Crake

Living in Hope

Scientists and storytellers are both guided by their imaginations, but now our research has started to catch up with our tales of what the future might be like. If we’re willing to change our views of what counts as ‘food’, then you might find your dining table starting to resemble that of your favourite sci-fi flick and our chances of feeding the world in the years looking promising.

There’s a clear moral lesson here for science fiction writers, too. With so many new and highly sustainable food sources out there, there’s absolutely no excuse for anyone to resort to eating other people.

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