Why Unfold Food

Hey, what do you think of when you hear the word food? How about technology? Now what do you think of when you put them together: food technology?

Maybe you think the phrase sounds strange. The two separate concepts that initially popped into your mind seem to contrast one another. With food, you might think of fruit, vegetables, maybe your mother’s home cooking. With technology, you might think of your laptop or mobile, maybe even a robot.

So together, food technology might make food sound cold, inorganic, or fake.

But did you know that pasteurisation is considered a food technology? Or field plows and greenhouses? Or the process that freezes your fruits and vegetables for your next smoothie is also food tech?

Food and agricultural technologies are a part of our daily lives, whether you know it or not. Without food tech, the products we eat, where and how we eat definitely changes.

There are so many things that go behind making and eating food. At FoodUnfolded we’re unpacking these things one by one.

We share with you the latest and oldest food technologies. We’ll take you through how things are made, why certain processes are used, the pros and the cons, alternatives, how technology can make our food more sustainable, healthy and nutritious, and basically anything and everything about food tech.

We talk with farmers, experts, food producers and manufacturers to answer your curious questions. We don’t just want to hear from you, we want to have conversations to come up with new ideas for a more sustainable food system. We’re the future, so let’s make it better together.

So, as you browse through our content (and hopefully internally laugh along the way), unfold your mind, learn the whys and hows of food technologies, and take a peek into the future of food.

 

Oh, and don’t forget to let us know your honest thoughts and opinions.

Food revolutionThe evolution of food

10000 BCE

10,000 B.C.E. - Selective Breeding

Selective breeding sounds like something out of the 21st century, but it dates back to 10,000 B.C.E.! For centuries, people had intentionally selected the most desired crops that seemed to best withstand diseases or pests, and also crops that bore larger seeds or fruits. Today, breeding has advanced into new techniques like CRISPR.

8540 BCE

8540 B.C.E. - The Fishing Net

It’s hard to believe that a fishing net could be considered a technology, but before nets, people would hunt for fish, first with their hands, and later with spears and arrows. The fishing net allowed fishers to catch fish in large quantities. The oldest fishing-net (Antrea) was discovered in modern-day Karelian Isthmus, and dates back to 8540 B.C.E.

6000 BCE

6000 B.C.E. - Fermentation

People have been practicing fermentation since 6000 B.C.E.! Today, fermented foods are a great source of probiotics to help balance the microbes in our gut.

6000 BCE

6000 B.C.E. - Irrigation

Irrigation has been used since 6000 B.C.E., when the Egyptians and Mesopotamians used the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates rivers during their flood seasons (July-December). The water was rerouted to their crop fields, then drained to allow the crop seeds to grow. Today, irrigation is used on a grand scale to feed local and global populations.

4000 BCE

4000 B.C.E. - The Plough

The early ploughs that were driven by oxen were actually adapted from Egyptian hand-held hoes, first invented around 4000 B.C.E. Today, ploughs have their own engines and are driven by farmers.

3200 BCE

3200 B.C.E. - The Oven

The earliest ovens date back to the Indus Civilization around 3200 B.C.E. and were made of mud and brick. Today, our ovens come in all shapes and sizes—even kids can make their own treats with Easy-Bake ovens!

2600 BCE

2600 B.C.E. - Baking

Baking is one of the oldest forms of food processing. The first intentional use of leavening in baking was by the Egyptians in 2600 B.C.E. Together with the oven, civilizations have been baking for centuries. The ancient Greeks made bread-making into an art, baking goods in different religiously symbolic shapes. Before they were conquered by the Romans, the Greeks even developed over 70 different types of bread.

1700 BCE

1700 B.C.E - Refrigeration

In 1700 B.C.E, the first ice houses were built near the Euphrates river. Food refrigeration as a preservation technique dates back to ancient times, when people built pits with ice they harvested from rivers and lakes. However, it wasn’t until 1913 when the refrigerator as we know it today was invented for home use.

500 BCE

500 B.C.E. - Milling

Today, you can easily buy milled flour off the shelves at your local grocery store, but for millennia people had to work to grind down grains through hand operations. The first hand-driven milling machines appeared around 500 B.C.E. in Ancient Greece, with the technology later evolving to use animals as motive power in Ancient Rome, with evidence in Pompeii, Italy dating back to around 300 B.C.E. Ancient China took things one step further by developing the use of water-powered milling machines.

304 CE

304 C.E. - Agricultural Biocontrol

Agricultural biocontrol is a way to control crop pests by using the insect’s natural enemies against them. Its first premeditated use can be traced back to China, where weaver ants were used to protect citrus plants.

1778

1778 - The Threshing Machine

When the threshing machine was invented in 1778 by the Scottish engineer Andrew Meikle, it made the processing of grains a whole lot easier. Before this machine, farmers and their families and workers would have to remove each seed, husk, stem and stalk by hand. (I would hate to have that job!)

1810

1810 - Canning

Canning was originally invented in 1810 by Nicolas Appert, a Parisian confectioner and chef, to preserve food. Today, food is sealed into airtight containers and heated under steam pressure at 116-121°C at varying times depending on food acidity, density, and heat transfer capabilities.

1865

1865 - Pasteurisation

The pasteurisation process was invented in 1865 by the French chemist Louis Pasteur while studying microorganisms. Pasteurisation, also known as sterilisation, is used to heat-treat liquid (e.g. milk and beer) to kill harmful bacteria. It has helped to dramatically reduce the number of infant deaths historically.

1906

1906 - Freeze Drying

Freeze-drying dehydrates food to preserve its texture and quality. It was invented in 1906 by the French physicist Jacques-Arsène d’Arsonval to help preserve blood serum. It wasn’t until the 1950s, however, that foods began to be freeze-dried too. The process helps prolong shelf-life and reduces weight for storage, shipping and handling.

1924

1924 - Food Fortification

Food fortification is the process of enriching foods with extra micronutrients or supplements (like iron or other vitamins). It was first initiated as a response to public health crises. In the USA, the first form of food fortification was made in salt by adding iodine to prevent goiter. Food fortification helped end other widespread health problems like rickets, beriberi, and pellagra. Today, foods are fortified with other vitamins and minerals that are often deficient in diets, such as Vitamin D and iron.

1945

1945 - Percy Spencer

American engineer Percy Spencer invented the microwave in 1945 (by accident). He was working in a lab where he was exposed to microwaves which melted a candy bar in his pocket, and there the microwave was born. Microwaves are a staple product in many kitchens nowadays, heating and cooking food through electromagnetic radiation.

1982

1982 - The Genetically Modified Crop

The first genetically modified crop was harvested in 1982 to be resistant to antibiotics. The gene sequence in plant cells are taken and “edited” or removed to make the produce more resistant to insects, disease, and help improve shelf life. Today, gene editing techniques, like CRISPR-Cas9, have become much more precise and successful.

1995

1995 - Cultured Meat

Also called in vitro meat, cultured meat is grown from animal cells in a cool scientific vessel, instead of the actual animal livestock. The technique was first explored by NASA to find a new food source for long space voyages. By Summer 2013, the Dutch researcher Mark Post created the first lab-grown hamburger, which was grilled and happily eaten by food critics in London.

2005

2005 - CRISPR-Cas9

CRISPR-Cas9 is a gene editing technique that can “switch off” or replace unwanted genes by cutting them out from a cell’s genetic material. The CRISPR technique was accidentally discovered in 1987 by molecular biologist Yoshuzumi Ishino, but Cas9 wasn’t discovered until 2005 by Alexander Bolotin. Since then it has been applied to multiple effects. For example, CRISPR has been used to slow down the browning of food products like mushrooms and apples by “switching-off” the gene responsible for colour change.

2006

2006 - 3D Printing

While 3D printing had been used for years with other material, such as plastic and metal, it was first used with edible material in 2006. The first 3D food printer was created by researchers at Cornell University, and has since evolved to print amazing meals like sushi! 3D printing can even be used to create nutritional meals, packed with alternative protein and vitamins.

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