Synthetic Foods Could Combat Future Shortages

Arts & Culture

A designer is reinventing the way we consume essential nutrients to create a more sustainable future.

Charlie Stephens
  • 10 july 2014


The world’s population is growing at an incredible rate. To accommodate for the 9.6 billion people predicted to inhabit the planet by 2050, we must produce 70% more food by the year 2050. Environmental concerns are being taken into account, and alternative food production methods are being explored. While some entrepreneurs champion insect consumption as the means for a sustainable future, others are turning to synthetic design.

Johanna Schmeer, a graduate from the Royal College of Art, has utilized the latest developments in nanotechnology to create synthetic foods. Her project, Bioplastic Fantastic, was presented at the Royal College of Art’s Show RCA 2014 exhibition, and includes a series of enzyme-enhanced bioplastics which produce essential nutrients as an alternative for food.

Her seven plastic designs use artificial photosynthesis to produce water, vitamins, fiber, sugar, fat, protein and minerals in solid and liquid form. The bioplastic structures house the enzymatic processes which carry out the nutrient production.

While her project relies on sound functional processes, Schmeer’s vision for sustainable food production focuses particularly on the consumer’s interactive experience.

“The project focuses less on communicating the exact functionality of these products, and more on the interactions, aesthetics, atmosphere, and the feeling involved in interacting with them,” says the Schmeer.

For what the nutrients may lack in taste, the unique visual designs aim to make up for it. The colorful, galactic looking objects are modeled after real life organisms and their relative functions.





A short video further demonstrates how consumers would interact with the products.

The synthetic foods shed light on the amazing possibilities for the future of food consumption. Production challenges that foreshadow a future of environmental degradation and starvation are forcing innovation- and the results look promising. The groundwork is being laid for a transformation of food consumption, and the next step is to bring such breakthrough methods of food production to scale.

Insect Consumption // Royal College of Art // Show RCA

[h/t] dezeen



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