Taste the future: Borough Market to host UK’s first Food Tech Village pop-up

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via Evening Standard : Sci-fi paints a pretty grim picture of the food of the future. There are a lot of worms: Star Trek’s Klingon speciality “Gagh” and Babylon 5’s “spoo”.

In Futurama, the Pringles of the 31st century — “popplers” — turn out to be the larval stage of an alien race. And according to the dystopian vision of Suzanne Collins in The Hunger Games, most of us will be toasting squirrel meat before packing off our offspring to an annual child butchery competition.

But according to Fredrika Gullfot, the food revolution will actually be algae-ised. The 50-year-old founded the Swedish company Simris, which farms algae to turn into omega 3-rich capsules — an alternative to fish oil.

“Everyone knows fish is really healthy because of the omega 3, but not many people know that the fish get their omega 3 from the algae they eat,” she says. “This is a smarter way to get it — you cut out the fish middlemen. Omega 3 is essential to our diet. The biggest benefit is that this is such a safe product, whereas fish often contain environmental toxins like mercury.”

Simris isn’t on sale here yet but will make its debut on November 2 at the UK’s first Food Tech Village at Borough Market. Part of London Food Tech week, the village is free to attend.

Innovation is in the air. Yesterday, scientists at the University of Sussex announced they can make food float using high-frequency soundwaves. It only works on pea-sized morsels of food (they also taste sweeter as a result) but could help save on the washing-up.

At the Food Tech Village, a major focus will be on sustainability. “There’s a strong case for algae from a sustainability perspective,” adds Gullfot. “Fish oil is one of the drivers of over-fishing.”

Simris launched in 2011. Its greenhouses are in southern Sweden and the company has recently gone from a small pilot to production on an industrial scale. Gullfot, a former investment banker who worked for Dresner Kleinwort, had the idea after returning to university to study biotechnology: “I realised this is such a fantastic group of organisms. Farming it made so much sense — the concept is so simple.”

She says initially sceptics heard “algae” and “thought of something that smells — green goo”, but now she has converts: “We have forgotten there are so many plants in the sea.” This is a futuristic food that stems from the primordial past: “These algae have been around for so many billions of years.”

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Another element of futuristic food, according to the companies at the Food Tech Village, is that it will stop clogging up landfill sites. Hannah McCollum, a Fulham-based chef who founded hummus company ChicP 18 months ago, has long felt horrified by how much we chuck away.

“People don’t think it will make much difference to throw away a lettuce,” she says. “They’re too scared to reuse things. I’ve picked half packets of crisps out of bins! The problem is the word ‘bin’ — people think it’s disgusting even if it has a new liner in there.”

ChicP was born out of her private chef work. She used to have a lot of leftover vegetables and would turn them into dips the next day. She realised there was a business in this, and got the reject veg from Borough Market. Now she’s stocked in Selfridges. In the future, she wants to work directly with farmers. Since supermarkets often over-order, farmers are often left with a major veg surplus.

Leftover food can also be repurposed. Optiat, based in Dulwich, is run by siblings William and Anna Brightman, aged 26 and 23 respectively. The name is an acronym: “One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure” and the company makes sustainable skincare, turning coffee grounds into body scrubs and ground-up hemp husks into face masks.

“William had the idea because he was using his cafetiere everyday, and didn’t have anywhere to put the grounds,” says Anna Brightman. “In 2014, more than nine million tonnes of coffee waste end up in landfill. People assume it can biodegrade — but it only does in specific conditions. In landfill, it rots and produces methane.” This coincided with the microbeads scandal, meaning there was an appetite for natural skincare.

“People have use coffee grounds on the skin for years, but no one was doing it here sustainably,” Brightman adds. “Researchers have found the level of antioxidants in brewed coffee can actually be higher than in a cup of coffee.”

Rethinking rubbish; eating algae — this is a modest vision of the future. And at least — so far — no one is suggesting opening a can of worms.

Source : Evening Standard | Taste the future: Borough Market to host UK’s first Food Tech Village pop-up

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