Food Innovation

'Alternative meat may become a $140 billion industry in a decade, Barclays Analysts predict'                                          

                                           

(Shiok Meats Cellbased Seafood Dumplings )

Why focus on Food Innovation in the Blue Mountains?

Our planet is on a collision course.  Currently, 800 million people do not have regular access to food and water, our population is increasing (60% of the world's population is in the Asia-Pacific region just above us) and we have a looming PROTEIN SHORTAGE. Food production is the biggest global consumer of water and Australia, being the  driest inhabited continent on  earth with ancient fragile soils, somehow has to increase protein production, but going forward, do it smarter.  We all know our planet is getting warmer, our weather more unpredictable and extreme.  Australia was the hottest place on the planet in early January 2019.

Humans have caused the loss of around 80% of wild land and sea mammals and half of plants, while 41% of insects are in decline (UN intergovernmental Science - Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services.)  We have climate change/loss of nature/loss of biodiversity. 90% of our fish stocks have been overfished.

Meanwhile,  roughly 70 billion animals a year are slaughtered for meat with a projection that meat consumption will double by 2050. 140 billion animals a year in 2050? Unsustainable and impossible for our air, soil, water, forests and resulting in considerable suffering to billions of animals.  Globally, due to the industrialization of agriculture, our meat consumption has increased five-fold since the mid 1950s. Australia is the biggest consumer of meat in the world.  Historically, programs encouraging people to eat less meat have not worked.  Where do we go from here?

All the evidence points back to industrial animal agriculture being a broken food system and a major contributor to climate change/loss of nature/loss of biodiversity.  In order to address climate change, keep global warming below that critical 1.5% increase, alleviate hunger, feed the world and avert catastrophic suffering, we must change the industrial food system - in particular, industrial animal agriculture.  We all have a part to play, no matter where we live - and it must do it quickly - locally, nationally and globally.  It is said the next 10-12 years are the most critical.

Right now, scientists, food technologists, academics, food companies, e-commerce marketers are working on quick turnaround solutions, especially in the United States, Europe, Israel, Singapore and China.  These are often referred to as high impact tools:

PLANT BASED MEAT

A number of start-up companies are in this space already, (Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, who were jointly presented with the UN's Champions of the Earth Award in September 2018, the UN's highest environmental honour.)  Products are already appearing in our supermarkets, side by side with conventional meat.  This is part of an immediate, ongoing strategy for systemic change, encouraging people to eat less meat, and working with food where the bulk of the population is right now - socially, culturally, economically.  "We're making change agents out of consumers even if sustainability isn't on their radar" (Impossible Foods).

CELLULAR (SLAUGHTER FREE) MEAT

"Clean meat is one breakthrough solution to the problems associated with raising animals for food.  Clean meat is created by growing meat outside of an animal from a small cell sample, eliminating the need for factory farming and slaughter.  The result is 100 percent meat, without the antibiotic residues and bacterial contamination that come standard in conventional meat production." (Ref: Good Food Institute)  It is considered clean meat is close to commercial viability.

Some major players in this field include Memphis Meats, Aleph Farms, Shiok Meats Singapore (cellular seafood).  One of the major stumbling blocks to cellular/clean meat is acceptance, so ongoing discussion within our communities, including the Blue Mountains, Australia, is vital. We are natural leaders and innovators here, so these emerging food innovations, particularly in plant based and clean meat, are a perfect 'fit' within our magnificent World Heritage environment! 

Of course always relevant are sustainable farming practises - regenerative agriculture, small scale environmentally-conscious family farms, biodynamic and organic farming, urban agriculture, permaculture, even humble kitchen gardens!  They are the "solid foundation", the keepers of our biodiversity, the desirable forms of agriculture moving forward into the 21st century.  However, we also urgently need to discuss and adopt these high-impact tools of plantbased proteins, plant based meats and clean meat.

There are also some great Australian producers growing pulses (and value-adding as well), providing a wealth of of plant-forward culinary options!  The biggest challenge in this great meat-eating country like Australia is to TAKE THE MYSTERY OUT OF PULSES and help to establish them as part of our regular food.  Inexpensive, nutritious, nitrogen fixing, carbon-sinking and definitely much kinder to animals, pulses are a wonderfood solution! This gives us the opportunity in our communities to also experiment with our cooking, trial cellular meat as it becomes available, adopt plant based meats and proteins in our homes and on our menus.  Naturally this blog will always have cooking ideas!

Australian farms and farmers will become increasingly important as part of the emerging supply chain. New opportunities will also arise around technical expertise, research and development for these exciting food innovations.  Our positioning so close to Asia offers even further opportunities. A national incentive on this is sorely-needed to help everyone feel empowered.

Food Innovation is a rapidly-expanding field and there are many areas to cover. For the purpose of this blog,  in order to keep it  manageable, I aim to focus on Earth Functional Foods (such as plant based meat and upcycled foods), Cellular Agriculture,Vertical Indoor Farming Systems  and  explore Waste/Packaging Solutions.

"The World Heritage Blue Mountains Australia - A flagship location discussing, exploring and adopting high-impact climate change solutions"