Straight Talk: The Future of Food
What we’ll eat in the future is about more than technology and science, says culinary curator Hannerie Visser of Studio H.
I often get asked to design future food menus and installations, food trend forecasts and future food reports for our clients at Studio H. Future food is something I think about and obsess over for days on end – I firmly believe the answer lies somewhere in-between our studio’s brand-new 3D food printer and the Maltabella porridge my brothers and I used to eat for breakfast. Did you know Maltabella is made from the ancient African grain sorghum (or mabele), a superfood that it is much healthier (and more delicious) than most other grains? It is gluten-free and has a low GI, and has been eaten for centuries in our country.
Without a doubt, technology and science are key to figuring out how we will be able to feed all 9.7 billion of us by 2050 in a sustainable manner. No one loves our 3D food printer more than I do. With this printer we are able to give fruit and vegetables that have been classified as food waste, due to marks and bruises, a new lease of life. We developed super-futuristic printed salads that contain the exact amount of nutrients we need in our daily diet (for issue 5 of the e-zine chipsonline.co.za). With this printer we can print anything edible in any shape or form.
Gallery Caption: The geometric food shapes featured here were printed with Studio H’s 3D food printer using discarded fruit and vegetables. The “face dish” was designed to contain the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of fruit and vegetables. The images were made for an article on food waste for Chips! (chipsonline.co.za), an independent online food magazine (and occasional printed magazine) published by Food Design Collective.
But what excites me even more than tech and science is learning how to make mabele porridge using the actual grains from Lufefe Nomjana, one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. Lufefe started his Spinach King chain with R40 in his pocket. He now owns two shops in Khayelitsha, started a micro-franchise opening its first shop in Langa soon, has a shop in Amsterdam, and can call Richard Branson a friend and business partner. All of this just by being in tune with the food he grows, wanting to teach people to eat healthily and in a sustainable manner, and making food from the heart.
This to me is the real future of food. It lies in us reconnecting with the earth and caring deeply about it; and knowing where our food comes from – and asking if we don’t know.
Gallery Caption: Some of the beautiful “ugly” fruits and vegetables that Studio H used to create new foods with the 3D printer on the right. Says Hannerie, “We transformed the kind of fruit and veg that oftentimes don’t reach the shops due to imperfections.”
To me, the essence of the future of food is all about heritage. Ask your gran how she makes your favourite food, ask your neighbours and colleagues about their favourite recipes, and relearn traditional techniques and trades. Make your own sorghum porridge from scratch by soaking the grains before boiling it, just the way Lufefe does. Be part of the future of food.
A list of my current favourite local and international cookbooks include Eat Ting by Mpho Tshukudu, A Culinary Journey of South African Indigenous Foods Through the Eyes of an African Chef by Nompumelelo Mqwebu, On Eating Insects by Phaidon and Salad for President by Julia Sherman.
TEXT Hannerie Visser PHOTOGRAPHS Alix-Rose Cowie
Gallery Caption: These playful jelly dishes were designed and printed by Studio H for Issue 2 of the online magazine Chips