What Does the Future of Food Look Like?
Food futurist Chloé Rutzerveld explores what we might be eating in the future – and how it will be made.
What is the future of food? To put that another way: how far would you go to continue eating meat? Can you identify dishes by individual flavour? Is it possible to create nutritious food using a 3D printer? While most of us would just wonder about these questions, Dutch food designer Chloé Rutzerveld attempts to answer them via creative, compelling and (in some cases) shocking projects. ‘I think people are afraid to think of what the future of food may look like, so I envision what it could be,' she says. 'My work is often speculative, and I look to stir up the imagination and inspire.’
Rutzerveld, who hails from the Netherlands, has taken food design to a new level. She describes herself as a food futurist and attempts to hypothesise about what food could be like in a way that is accessible to everyone – not just the scientists who are making developments in this area. Her path to this unique form of food design started when she was studying back in 2012. ‘I started exploring food in such an unusual way at university with my Cultured Meat project, and things just fell into place,' says Rutzerveld. 'It made sense to me to think about the future of food and how science and technology could impact it.’
Her cultured meat project, called In Vitro ME, looked at the cultivation of meat. Rutzerveld wondered if in the future, people would grow their own meat – using their own cells – so that they could consume it. And if they did, she considered how this might affect a person’s lifestyle, and the type of meat they produce.
While sustainability and zero waste are always at the forefront of Rutzerveld’s projects, her main driving force is curiosity. ‘I never go looking for projects – they find me, almost intuitively,' she says. 'If I hear, see or read something that fascinates me, I do as much research on the topic as I can, I absorb myself in it. This is usually in the realms of science and technology, but anything that I find interesting could be a project. If it keeps me up at night, it’s a good sign.’
Once a topic has piqued her interest, she starts developing her ideas into a project. ‘My process is like making a smoothie. All the information goes in my head, and then I get settled and it all falls into place. I start thinking graphically about how I am going to present it. Is it going to be a dinner, an installation, a practical? Whatever it is, the presentation must serve the message.’
And that message, whatever it may be, is always free. Rutzerveld wants her work to be accessible to all. She lectures to help finance her projects, as well as collaborating and applying for (and receiving) research funding. ‘It is easy to approach people, because my work serves a purpose,' she says. 'It usually deals with sustainability and decreasing waste, and has a relevance to society.’
So what are some of her projects? De Likknikkerbaan explored taste and intimacy via an elaborate installation in which people had to lick flavoured gels in a moving ball that slid on a metal track. Two people played at a time, facing each other, and could only touch the ball with their tongue.
Strooop! saw Rutzerveld attempt to create the popular Dutch treat of stroopwafels using waste vegetables. And then there is her favourite project: The Other Dinner. This was a follow up to In Vitro ME, and saw meat lovers test their dedication to the food type they prefer by getting them to prepare and eat dishes made using the 'offcuts' of animals – think tails, ears and noses. They even cooked and ate rats. 'I had a lot of time to work on it,' says Rutzerveld, 'and it was a good collaboration and a hands-on project that educated people.’ To see more of The Other Dinner, take a look at the video below:
ALSO READ: A Spot of Tea with Lady Bonin
Rutzerveld's latest project is a book titled Food Futures: How Design and Technology can Reshape our Food System. In it, she explores new food production techniques and translates multidisciplinary research into future food scenarios. She explains her thoughts, process and work on the above projects and more.
In a series inspired by the inaugural FOOD XX Symposium and Awards, House and Leisure tells the stories of five remarkable women who are disrupting and improving the food industry.