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The Future of Food: What Will We Likely Be Eating in 2050?

by Agritech Digest
The future of food in 2050 - Agritech Digest

Some of the foods that will be consumed by the year 2050 will include cultured meat, algae, seaweeds, high protein insects, allergen-free nuts, beans, legumes, wild grains and cereals, and heat-resistant coffee. 

Oyewole Okewole

It is worth noting that the current challenges being faced in agriculture and with global food systems will cause a push for alternative solutions, with an increased call for resilient and sustainable practices to maintain and perhaps enjoy food consumption at the present rates that we are used to. Providing the global population with adequate protein by 2050 will be one of the most pressing challenges because the current meat provisions will need to be more sustainable. Livestock production is responsible for approximately 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of global deforestation takes place in order to grow animal feed according to The Guardian. 

According to one article, by 2050, the demand for meat and dairy products in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to increase by 327% and 270% respectively, while the demand for grains is projected to rise by 190% in comparison with 2012 levels. Also, it is projected that fish demand is expected to increase by 30%, according to a foresight study

However, for the sake of creating a more sustainable environment, staple foods that will be consumed in 2050 will increasingly change to reflect our collective objective of sustainability, resilience, and survival. According to the EAT Lancet Commission report, the transformation to more healthy diets by the year 2050 will require substantial dietary modifications. The global consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes will have to double. On the other hand, the consumption of foods like red meat and sugar will have to be reduced by more than 50%. A diet rich in plant-based foods and with fewer animal-source foods expresses both improved health and environmental benefits.

Essentially, the environmental impacts from the production of some of the current foods consumed will negatively impact the climate. The resultant effect of these food productions on the climate far outstrips the choices individuals might develop in selecting their preferred food. These new staples will taste quite differently from what we’re used to, but will be satisfactory and still provide the needed nutrients, and most importantly, can be produced more sustainably to satisfy the food requirements of the global population of the time. These alternative foods will replace the ones currently consumed, as more attention will be placed on food produce that ensures optimised nutrient intake and dietary satisfaction. 

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According to another study, about 90 million hectares of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are dry land. The dry land can become productive food-producing areas as we journey into 2050. The current demand for dry land cereals and legumes is increasing and is predicted to grow by 30-60%. Climate–smart grain legumes and dry land cereals will play significant roles in addressing food security in Africa. Crop varieties that are heat and drought-resistant will be increasingly required to cushion the effect of climate change on the continent and to address food insecurity issues. Examples of these grain legumes and dry land cereals are chickpea, common bean, cowpea, groundnut, lentil, pigeon pea, soybean, finger millet, pearl millet and sorghum. Essentially, resilient methodologies and innovations including the utilisation of climate-smart varieties will play significant roles in feeding Africa’s teeming population. 

Some of the foods that will be consumed by the year 2050 will include cultured meat, algae, seaweeds, high protein insects, allergen-free nuts, beans, legumes, wild grains and cereals, and heat-resistant coffee. In this article we will explore thirteen foods that we may likely consume in the coming years. They include cultured meat, high-protein insects, seaweed and algae, pandanus, false bananas, fonio, lablab, finger millet, morama beans, oca, ulluco, and mashua.

(Read also: The Future of Food: What Factors Will Drive the Food We Eat in 2050 (Part One)

Cultured Meat

Regions whose climates will not be appropriate for meat production from livestock rearing will perhaps create and get used to new and stable sources of animal protein. Leading the pack for animal protein is cultured meat. An increase in the production and supply of cultured meat will be experienced. Cultured meat requires less time and land resources for feeding and rearing livestock, with minimal impact on the environment. It is real meat that is created from animal cells rather than slaughtered animals. Cultured meat has a lower carbon footprint compared to conventional meat production. Research is being conducted to ensure that the experience of consuming cultured meat imitates the meat–eating experience of conventional meat, in addition to providing the required nutritional value.

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Cultured Meat

High Protein Insects

Insects with high protein will also be an accessible animal protein source by 2050. Insects can possess valuable nutrients including vitamins and amino acids and are much more readily available perhaps than livestock meat. Examples of these insects include grasshoppers, mealworms, and crickets. They are being produced more sustainably as an alternative source of protein to livestock and poultry products.
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High Protein Insects

Seaweed and Algae

Seaweeds are plants of the marine system. They use photosynthesis to generate nutrients required for growth and maintenance. They contain nutrients that are essential to humans and will become one of the available, sustainably-produced foods. Algae are one of the most important organisms on the earth because they provide nearly all of the earth’s oxygen. They are generally rich in dietary fibre, high in protein, and can be produced in the shortest possible time with minimal environmental impact. According to steakholder foods, seaweed and algae production will increase in the future and serve as a solution for food security.

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a. Sea Weed and b. Algae

Pandanus

Pandanus is a genus of monocots. They are palm-like, dioecious trees and shrubs. Cooks across Southeast Asia are already using the leaves and fruits of the pandanus tree according to the World Economic Forum. Its leaves are used in sweet and savoury dishes and its pineapple-like fruit can be eaten raw or cooked. It is also a climate-resilient and nutritious food and promises to be one of the foods of the future.
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Pandanus

False Bananas

It is also known as Enset and also as a tree against hunger according to Kew. The fruit is feeding 20 million people across Ethiopia. It could feed about 100 million people if planted more widely across Africa, according to the World Economic Forum. It is a giant herb that provides not only food but also a source of material for weaving. A very resilient, drought-resistant, food-secure plant.
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False Bananas

Fonio

This is a grass that is cultivated as cereals. Fonio is one of the oldest cultivated cereals as explained by Healthline. It is a staple in the drier areas of West Africa. It is a fast-growing cereal rich in iron, calcium, and several amino acids. The grains are used to make porridge, couscous, and drinks.
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Fonio

Lablab

It is grown as an ornamental plant, especially in cooler climates, but grown for food in Africa and India. It is also known as the hyacinth bean. Its leaves are rich in protein and iron and are also used to feed animals. The beans are nearly 25% protein and are used to make tofu. They could be grown even more widely across the world as temperatures rise.

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Lablab 

Finger Millet

It is one of the wild grain crops. It is established as a staple crop in India. The crop is rich in calcium and dietary fibre and also helps to prevent diabetes. It is believed to have originated in Africa and over time spread to Asia. It is pest–resistant and thrives in tropical and semi-arid regions.
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Finger Millet

Morama beans

Morama beans are a long-lived perennial legume native to arid areas of southern Africa. They are capable of surviving droughts. It’s a staple in some areas in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. They are usually prepared with maize meal or ground to make porridge or a cocoa-like drink. The matured seeds of morama are largely prepared by roasting, grinding or boiling.

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Morama Beans

Oca, Ulluco, and Mashua

The International Potato Centre considers these tubers as sustainable alternatives to potatoes but they are not affected by certain diseases, unlike potatoes. Oca produces the second most widely cultivated tuber after potato. It is hardy and has a firm texture with a lemony taste. It is long, cylindrical tubers from white to deep grayish purple It is high in protein, fibre, and high in antioxidants. 

Ulluco on the other hand has high water content, edible leaves, and is rich in protein, calcium and carotene. It is most suitable for boiling.

Mashua thrives on marginal soils, develops rapidly and competes successfully with weeds. It is a cone-shaped tuber and is usually white, yellow, red or purple. It contains high levels of glucosinolates known for insecticidal and medicinal properties. It is used by farmers as a natural way to repel insects and pathogens. It is a traditional diuretic and remedy for kidney ailments according to the International Potato Centre
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a. Oca,
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b. Ulluco and 
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c. Mashua

In summary, these foods and many more will increasingly serve as the future foods that will help reduce environmental impact while being sustainably produced to feed the growing population.

Oyewole Okewole. Agricultural Project Development Specialist

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

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