What does the future of food look like? That was the question researchers discussed at the Food Innovation Summit last Friday. The challenges in the food industry will continue to grow as consumers rely more on technology instead of just their senses to understand what they’re eating and its effects on their bodies.
There are many different technologies in the works that are designed to help people better understand what they’re consuming. These technologies include sensors that detect specific ingredients and allergens in food, like a chip you wear on your tooth that tracks sugar consumption. That sounds interesting!
Some of these devices move even deeper inside of us. Max Elder, a researcher at the Institute for the Future’s Food Futures Lab, explains:
For example, a lab at Carnegie Mellon University is working to develop an ingestible sensor that would monitor gastrointestinal health. This is not necessarily a crazy idea that we would have sensors inside our guts at all times. There are other sensors that don’t need to be inside your stomach. Tufts University has created a tooth sensor, which is two millimeters by two millimeters, that can measure glucose, sugar and alcohol intake.
This could certainly be helpful for people with, for example, celiac disease and for people who have food sensitivities and hope to avoid certain ingredients. This would mean more informed consumers and force the food industry to up its game.
I’m less excited about the technologically engineered foods, like cell-cultured meat. In general, ultra-processed man-made foods are a step in the wrong direction. But expect to see more and more of this in the future, too.
So, what will we be eating and how will we be tracking what we eat in the coming decades? Only time will tell!