Kitchen predictions: how will we eat in the future?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 November 2016
Food futurologist Dr Morgaine Gaye predicts how, and more importantly why, our food and our kitchens will be radically different in the not-so-distant future
Last week Waitrose released its 2016 Food and Drink Report. Amongst the edible trends tipped to be big next year are Hawaiian style raw fish salad, vegetable flavoured yoghurts and watermelon juice (Beyonce is reportedly already a fan).
Our taste buds are suitably primed for 2017 then, but what lies beyond these Instagram-friendly dishes du jour?
Food futurologist Dr Morgaine Gaye’s job is to dig deeper than the food fads in order to work out not just what we’re going to be eating and drinking, but why.
“I look at global trends across the board, whether that’s design, geopolitics, or socio-economics behaviours,” she told the audience at Siemens Experience the Future event.
“Food connects our taste, our history, our culture and our identity,” says Dr Gaye. “Food trends happen across categories because food doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so we’ll see it reflected in fashion, interiors and design.”
So how – and why – will we be eating what we’re eating in the not so distant future? And how will this effect the way we live?
Kitchen physician, heal thyself
“It’s really exciting what’s happening in the home,” says Dr Gaye. “One of things we are already noticing about the kitchen is it’s becoming more like the apothecary. We are self medicating much more, we’re trusting doctors much less.”
People are looking to their fridge to find wellness, and technology is racing to catch up.
Dr Gaye has been in contact with scientists who are currently developing a device that stores the users DNA and other biometric information. When breathed into it can detect any deficiencies in vitamin’s and minerals and relay the information to the user, who can then use the device to scan the contents of their fridge to find the perfect edible solution.
“Every single thing is going to be bespoke,” she says. “What we’ll start to see when we talk about integrated appliances in kitchens is that it’s integrated with you as a person and everything that makes you unique.”
Future food technology is going to be far from one size fits all, and our homes will need to reflect that.
“Houses are going to become a lot more about the quantified self and optimum living for each individual. Home intelligence will be on a personal level.”
If we’re using food for medicinal purposes, quality is of the essence. Siemens have developed a Wi-Fi enabled, app controlled fridge that uses hyperFresh technology to regulate the humidity inside a special compartment meaning your food retains nutrients (and flavour) for longer.
Time is of the essence
“We are really concerned about time. Time is shifting, and we are bending time,” says Dr Gaye. We’re using time in a different way, possibly more than we ever have before. It’s the new luxury.”
Whereas our grandparents would sit down together to eat three meals a day, modern life has seen a seismic shift in mealtimes.
Lunch has been pushed back to well after the traditional midday spot, and we’re eating supper at a much later, more continental time.
“We’re snacking more, and we’re restructuring our work time, our life time and our play time,” says Dr Gaye.
As for much beleaguered breakfast it’s almost been squeezed out entirely. No longer will you find the entire family gathered around a box of cornflakes at the breakfast table. We frequently eat our morning meal on the move, with kids snacking on the school run and adults eating at their desk whilst tackling their inbox.
Breakfast bars in kitchens could soon become a thing of the past. Dr Gaye predicts that the next breakfast craze will be the bagged breakfast – a multi step breakfast prepped and sold in a nostalgic paper bag, perfect for our grab and go lifestyle. They’re already popular in hotels and American high schools, so expect to see them in your local hipster breakfast spot soon.
Fancy coffee machines at home could soon become obsolete, although that doesn’t mean we’ll be cutting down on the caffeine any time soon.
“We’re going back to coffee,” says Dr Gaye. “Coffee was the drink of British people and it got replaced by tea. We think we’re a tea drinking nation but that’s actually a recent phenomenon.”
With time so precious we’ll want out our coffee instantly, but we won’t want instant coffee.
“People have less time so they want the thing they want and they want it now,” says Dr Gaye. “So we’re going to see the rise of vending machines. Really clever, high end vending machines. Not something that you might see in a railway station that’s giving you a can of coke and a mars bar.”
These high tech, destination vending machines will be able to brew the perfect cuppa or press the freshest juices on a street corner, so you won’t have to wait in line at your local coffee shop.
With baristas replaced by robots, we’ll also start to see coffee cups that can be eaten once you’ve drunk your fill, thereby cutting down on littering and landfill in one fell swoop.
Waste not, want not
The humble compost heap is about to become the hottest garden accessory. Along with edible containers, eco conscious brands are investing more in futuristic technology that could help stop the scary onslaught of climate change.
“Packaging is going to become a much bigger consideration,” says Dr Gaye. “We’re going to move away from what is now considered recyclable or biodegradable – where it takes about 25 years to break down in landfill.
“Where we’re going is compostable, that’s eight weeks from object to soil. We’ll either be able to eat the packaging or leave it in the ground and it will dissolve within eight weeks.”
Dr Gaye also predicts that bottled water is just moments away from being banned. Instead our water will come in edible membranes such as Ooho! from London start up Skipping Rocks Lab that’s creating biodegradable water balloons made from seaweed and calcium chloride.
Climate change is also causing us to be conscious about our water consumption. Whilst London is as rainy as ever, California and parts of Australia are experiencing unprecedented droughts.
“We don’t really feel the effect of the droughts that are happening – yet – but it is affecting our food supply. It affects the price of grain and therefore meat,” says Dr Gaye.
Plumbing is going to go high tech, with taps that can create the illusion of unrestricted water but use up to 15 per cent thanks to clever aeration.
Royal College of Art student Simin Qiu won the iF Concept award with his ‘Swirl’ faucet, a tap that harnesses the gravity of water falling in a spiral to create a slower, water saving flow that’s also hypnotically beautiful.
Clothes that don’t need a wash but do have a bit of a whiff about them? Siemens have developed a washing machine with a setting that allows you to refresh your clothes without rinsing them in water. The sensoFresh technology uses a combination of fog and active oxygen to neutralise odours with minimum water usage.
Your shower could also be about to see an upgrade. The health benefits of drinking water are wildly documented, but now the water we bathe in will benefit us too
“There are loads of different devices out there at the moment that you can add on to your shower to give you a different experience,” says Dr Gaye, who predicts that shower heads impregnated with Vitamin C are about to become mainstream. “80 per cent of everything you put on to your skin you absorb into your bloodstream.”
Devices that allow you to clip a teabag like sachet under the shower head will allow you to recreate an aromatherapy spa shower experience in the comfort of your own bathroom.
No inhibitions about prohibition
Bad news, high functioning alcoholics. With alcohol consumption sharply declining amongst the under 30s and our NHS increasingly under strain from the health implications of drinking amongst the over 50s Britain’s infamous drinking culture is under attack.
Younger Londoners are starting to seek non-alcoholic alternatives of their own accord, and Dr Gaye predicts that a future tax on alcohol could only accelerate the rise of a new prohibition as alcohol brands move into food and cosmetics in a bid to stay relevant.
“I think we’re just days away from a bar opening up in London that has a complete plethora of non alcoholic drinks,” she says.
Canned beers are on their way out, in part because they don’t provide a luxurious experience.
“You can’t see it and the small aperture means you can’t smell it when you open it. It takes away our sensory pleasure and we as consumers are demanding more of that.”
In their place new brands like Altar are creating alcohol free cocktail mixes with top notch ingredients and tasting notes to rival the finest of wines, whilst other brands are moving into edibles such as salted caramel truffles spiked with whisky or alcoholic milkshakes for adults.
Want to really future proof your home? You might want to think about swapping that wine fridge that takes pride of place in your kitchen for a freezer for all your alcoholic ice cream.
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