We celebrate World Environment Day on 5 June this year and there is a growing awareness that we need to do more about the global environmental crisis.

The world’s population is continuing to grow and industrial farming and meat production are a significant cause of the harmful gases that cause global warming. To help solve this problem, we need to find alternatives – and that’s where food science comes in. There is a growing industry around supply options that will be kinder to the environment but just as pleasing to the palate.  

Of course, there has always been science behind how our food is harvested, cleaned and combined with other ingredients. But now many consumers want to know that the food they are eating is more humane and does not contribute to global warming. Technology can help us to make tasty and appealing food in more environmentally friendly ways than it is now produced. So how do we make alternative foods that are delicious and nutritious?

More sustainable and socially responsible 

New technologies are being developed to make new kinds of foods or to make the same food that’s different but in innovative ways. Two of the ways in which we can do this is with cell-based meat and plant-based meat.

  • Cell-based meat has grown in popularity in recent years. Also known as cultured or laboratory-grown meat, it’s produced using the vitro cell culture of animals. It is made using the same tissue-engineering techniques used in regenerative medicine. The goal is to have cell-based meat produced everywhere at an affordable price. And although the technology is there, it still needs to be perfected. According to online food magazine Fooddive, the first cell-based chicken already appeared in a Singapore restaurant menu in 2020, and some in the industry think that cell-based food will soon be approved in the US.
  • Plant-based meat is becoming more popular with consumers. It mimics the taste and textures of meat for a better dining experience. Manufacturers use technology to produce food from plant ingredients such as coconut oil, vegetable protein extract and beet juice. It’s not only better for the planet, it’s also healthier for diners because it’s lower in saturated fat and calories.

More available alternatives

Fooddive also says that food technology is making other kinds of alternatives possible. CRISPR is a gene-editing technology that has used genetic modification to make crops more appealing to consumers. AquaAdvantage salmon is the first genetically modified animal product to hit US supermarket shelves this year. 

Whether customers will want to buy food that’s genetically modified still remains to be seen. Some critics are sceptical, but the popularity of Impossible Burger which is a plant-based burger patty that makes its heme out of genetically modified soy, suggests otherwise. Haven Baker, co-founder and chief business officer of Pairwise, a food-gene editing company, believes that food production is currently at a place where plant-based milk was 10 years ago and is set for similar growth over the next decade. Is genetically modified food the food of the future? We’ll have to wait and see. 

Technology is not only helping us to find food alternatives, but it can also help to streamline your restaurant operations. Pilot Point of Sale was designed for restaurant efficiency and control. Check out our e-book on the secret ingredients for a successful restaurant to find out more.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst