The world has a problem. Global warming is one thing. But combined with overpopulation we will have a serious problem feeding ourselves in future. It takes serious innovation to meet this challenge as well as willpower to test-drive it, at least for a weekend. Luckily, I found someone who does have both 🙂
The open source citizen science foodtech initiative Growstack has already developed a method to grow plants without soil. This vertical farming technology reminds me of my childhood’s growing of cress in the windows, however this is a bit more multifarious with various nutritious plants grown by automated aeroponic farming without pesticides.
One of the visions of Growstack is to make sustainable planting easy-to-use for everyone. As a partnership between IDA (The Danish Society Engineers in Denmark), Next Food and CPH Foodtech Community they work with skillful people, but they are not too posh to host a FoodJam in best 50 hours hackathon-style. As a fan of hackathons (watch my DIY-section) I am hooked!
Ok, to be honest – I am not much of a foodie. Actually, my kitchen is mostly used to hang out with a cup of tea or unpack food that I have picked up somewhere else.
But that does not give me the right to ignore the fact that it takes more kilograms to feed a cow than the same cow will produce in meat. Also considering that the world’s population will grow to nearly 10 billion in 2050, which means that already in 2030 we must produce 60 % more food than we do today, it is clear that something must be done. It is necessary to rethink the way that we produce and eat food.
That is why the participants of this lovely FoodJam give themselves the challenge of producing new food which is 10 times faster, 10 times cheaper and 10 times healthier. Combined with surroundings at Aalborg University Copenhagen next to Sydhavnens innovative waterfront, which I have described in an earlier blogpost, the scene was set for success.
One of the first cooking-experiments I came across belongs to Frederik, Mikael and Celia. They work with crabs from the beach. In addition to the edible crab which is normally used for food, those small crabs do not contain enough meat for someone to really care, they destroy the work of the fishermen when they get stuck in the fishing net and as a result it is a disturbance to the ecosystem and an animal that most people just want to get rid of.
Today most of the beach crab are used to produce animal feed. But why not use them for feeding humans as well? It does take a little more ingredients to give it taste, so in comes the carrots, spring onions and blended tomatoes, which are all slowly boiled into a stew. A few hours later the stew is ready for the food processor – now the innovative team creates a delicious seafood sauce, cream and coconut milk added.
One of the biggest challenges with the beach crabs is the claws. They are very hard, so one creative solution from the food-team is to put them in apple vinegar and cola overnight. It does not work, though. 24 hours later the claws are still as hard as stone. However, thumbs up for a nice try!
But you cannot have a tasty sauce without crisps. Mikael is the man for the job, since he has a great interest in working with fat. In the outdoor kitchen he works with all kinds of vegetables; sweet potatoes, yam, plantains etc. which he boils in fat, not worrying about what modern health-gurus might think of that. As a matter of fact, he believes that fat is much healthier than rumour has it nowadays and that we need to change our view on fat.
First, people all over the world lived from fat and guts centuries before we started to throw it away as rubbish in modern slaughterhouses. And secondly, statistics for what is healthy changes all the time, he tells his team.
Inside the kitchen a true food-trend has found its way to Daniel’s pots and pans. Working oyster mushroom (the top 5 most healthy food), he damps them with bourbon tree to get them so soft that he can serve them as pulled mushroom – in good competition with polled pork, pulled turkey and pulled … you name it.
The pulled mushroom is to be served with a green wrap, which Daniel has made from spinach and spelt milk. As he serves it later with a homemade coleslaw, he tells me that not only is this course full of protein, it will also be good for your skin. As a longtime fitness-fan I can see a future business here.
Ideas grow fast at hackathons, and the most influential one this weekend seems to be to recreate familiar meat-dishes without the meat. Thelle has taken up the challenge with the Danish classical meatball, which is usually made with pork.
In the new version Thelle works with almonds, oatmeal, Portobello mushroom, oyster mushroom, vegetable bouillon and Japanese miso. Thelle has worked through one meatball at the time to get just the right feeling of meat, chewiness and taste – his new idea is to add linseed.
The funniest idea of the FoodJam comes from Niels. At the kickoff Friday he really wanted a kebab, so he took the challenge of making a vegan one. Working with knob celery, Portobello mushroom and “icing” (made of miso, salt, sugar and tamarind) he did manage to make it look quite close to an original kebab.
The taste is not quite close – but actually not bad. At the moment he is thinking very hard for a working title for the new food, since kebab without meat is really a false name.
Everything has to come to an end – and in this case a good one. After the tasting of all the results of the FoodJam – which the participants kindly invited me to join – I have a surprise ending.
It turns out that Andreas has created the tastiest energy-bars with the basics of dates, almond and coconut. Like Thelle did with the meatballs, Andreas has tried his way through different versions of the bar, adding cocoa, orange or even orange peel. A nice and healthy snack.
Finally, everyone joins the circle in the yard to stretch.
Perhaps to digest everything, food and ideas for the next FoodJam? And then the dishwashing of course, but this is not worth the boring pictures, so I’ll leave you here.
Watch out for more innovation from Growstack – they might do another FoodJam soon.