Kitchen Norms Disrupted


By Veronica Chavez

Photo courtesy of OakleyOriginals.

With Earth’s climate changing the land we farm on, and energy options decreasing at such an accelerated rate, researchers are pressed now more than ever to come up with sustainable alternatives for food production in the future. Although larger systems of the food industry are slowly putting more emphasis on small horticulture farmers, and creating new “green” practices, many changes will occur on a smaller scale: within people’s homes. Some of these newest technologies may prove a bit too futuristic for the average consumer, nonetheless, below are some of the innovative practices we might start to see in kitchens within the next decade.

Producing our own food and protein

With so much controversy revolving around the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), many people in the past few years have taken the initiative to start cultivating their own organic gardens. Most city-dwellers (at least those without access to their building’s roof) have had to keep this type of self-produced agriculture confined to whatever sunny shelf-space their small apartment had. That is until Niwa came out. Niwa is a smartphone-controlled mini garden that can be used to grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The innovative hydroponic-based technology has built-in software that can control climate variables. The project was funded by Kickstarter and is available for pre-order now.

On the more unconventional side, the developers over at Livin, specifically Katharina Unger, has come up with a device that will allow users to produce their own protein at home (while potentially grossing them out). Farm432, is a device that will allow people to breed their own black soldier flies, a source that is able to provide just as much protein as traditional meats.

And if you think that using insects as protein sources is too bizarre to ever catch on, I’m afraid most experts would say you’re wrong. More and more companies are beginning to offer cricket flour and cricket-based protein bars. Even the UN released a report in 2013 that identified almost 2,000 types of highly nutritious edible insects.

Eliminating food disposal

The increased awareness of the startling amount of waste produced just from cooking and eating food has luckily inspired many families to begin greener practices within their own home. Composting, for one, has grown immensely in popularity over the last few years. What is one to do however, with the packaging that so many of our foods come in?

Well, Sweden-based designers Hannah Billqvist and Anna Glansen of Tomorrow Machine are trying to solve that very problem. In 2012, the duo launched a project cleverly titled “This Too Shall Pass” that features biodegradable food packaging, some of which doubles as a vessel to cook and serve the food as well.

The Sustainable Expanding Bowl, for example, consists of a cellulose vessel containing freeze-dried food. Adding boiling water not only cooks the food inside, but also causes the packaging to expand and open into a bowl. Tomorrow Machine is also in the early stages of developing new packaging that not only acts as a serving, but is made out of natural materials that are easily compostable or can dissolve in water.

Reusing food materials

Did you know that there are devices out in the world right now that can turn your used coffee grounds into mushrooms? There are! With more and more people beginning to realize how wasteful k-cups can be, now you can enjoy your morning cup of coffee with a little less guilt. The Espresso Mushroom Company, GroCycle, and Back to the Roots all sell kits that allow you to facilitate this magical process within your own home.

The company Loliware has taken a more whimsical approach to the problem of food waste by creating a line of disposable packaging that is edible. Brightly colored glasses made with agar, a seaweed-based gel, looks like something out of a fairytale and apparently tastes delicious–nothing like seaweed. Hopefully they’ll develop plates and cutlery soon so we can skip doing the dishes altogether.