Tomorrow’s Meatball: A Visual Exploration of Future Foods

09.12.155 min read

Tomorrow’s Meatball is a visual exploration of the future of food, exploring the many ways we could be eating in the not too distant future. The exploration focuses on alternative ingredients, technological innovations and uncharted gastronomic territories. These are things we need to consider if we want to combat our unsustainable appetite for meat and the explosive demand for more food in the future.

Like it or not, meat-eating and our increasing demand for food is becoming a problem for everyone on the planet. Our meat production is impacting global warming significantly, uses dwindling supplies of fresh water, destroys forests and grasslands, and causes soil erosion, while pollution and animal waste create dead zones in coastal areas and smother coral reefs.

In addition to this, our demand for food will increase with 70 percent within the next 35 years according to the UN. We need to be smarter and more efficient about the way we produce our food and be more open minded about food diversity, as our global population grows and climate change cuts into the water and land that’s available for farming. SPACE10 set out to explore how we can produce more food with less and in a more sustainable way then today.

We used the meatball’s shape and size as a canvas for future foods scenarios, because we wanted to visualise complicated research in a simple, fun and familiar way. There’s hardly any culture that does not cook meatballs — from the Swedish meatball, to Italian/American spaghetti meatballs, to spiced up Middle Eastern kofta.

It’s quite difficult to picture that in the near future we will be eating insects or artificial meat. But, with the increasing demand for food, we need to start considering adding alternative ingredients to our daily menu. You could say that Tomorrow’s Meatball gets people a little more familiar with the unfamiliar.

The Artificial Meatball

Artificial meat is an animal-flesh product, grown inside a laboratory. The first lab grown beef burger was presented in 2013 and cost $325,000. Today, that very same burger costs only $10. Artificial meat is a viable near-future alternative to the increasingly unsustainable practice of cattle farming.

The Wonderful Waste Ball

Up to one third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people according to UN Food and Agricultural Organisation. Food waste is prominent in the efforts to combat hunger, improve food security in the world’s poorest countries and preserving the environment. Reducing this loss is a critical step towards securing enough food for a fast growing world population.

The Urban Farmer’s Ball

Urban farming is booming. More and more people nowadays are growing food as local as possible. Local food represents a serious alternative to the global food model. It reduces “food miles”, offers fresh products all-year-round, generates employments, creates greenbelts, and strengthens cities’ resilience to climate change.

The Mighty Powder Ball

Powdered food has been gathering traction lately. The meal replacement is available in both liquid and powdered forms and includes all the elements of a healthy diet: protein, carbs, unsaturated fats, alongside all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Today already, nutrient-dense products have become game changers for treating severe malnutrition in developing countries.

The Lean Green Algae Ball

Algae are the fastest growing plant organisms in nature and is a great alternative source of vitamins, protein and minerals. Because of this, the mean and green aquatic plant has a lot of potential as a scalable food source, as it can be grown anywhere – often in vertical fermentation tanks – without using large amounts of land or water.

The 3D Printed Ball

3D food printing has the potential to save the environment, while revolutionizing food production – converting alternative ingredients such as proteins from algae, beet leaves, or insects into delicious meals. In addition, 3D foot printing opens the door to food customization and personalized nutrition.

The Nutty Ball

Grains, legumes and nuts continue to gain in health reputation for providing abundant protein and micronutrients. In the near future, more and more local farmers will breed new varieties of grains to thrive in their regions, marrying classic seed selection with modern technology.

The Crispy Bug Ball

Insect eating is common to cultures in most part of the world. Over 1,000 different insect species are eaten in 80% of the world’s nations. Insects generally contain more protein and are lower in fat than traditional meats and have about 20 times higher food conversion efficiency – making it a viable addition to our current menu.