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What will you be eating 20 years from now?

by Ruth Aine - 17 March 2014

MeatOne of the things that humanity cannot do without is food. That is why food security has become quite a huge topic in Africa, though it never seems to beat war when it comes to being top of the agenda at the African Union in our countries For some reason, we are more concerned about going to war and how that will make us look than getting our people fed.

 

Meat is one of the components of our meals that most of us cannot do without. For some in Africa, a meal is not a meal unless it has meat. A party is no party if there is no meat. Even if it is just a piece, [like it is served in my village] people do get offended when they do not taste it. When I was growing up, we used to buy a kilogram of beef at about 1,500/- Ugx [0.6% of a dollar]. Today the same is bought at about 6,000/- Ugx [$2.5]. This could be as a result of so many factors.

It is not just the prices that have gone up but meat consumption as well. Meat consumption worldwide has doubled in the last 20 years, and it is expected to double again by 2050.This is happening in large part because economies are growing and people can afford more meat. That's all good news. However, raising the amounts of meat needed takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact.

According to FAO, by 2030, the world will need millions of tonnes more meat than it does today. But meeting that demand with animal products isn't sustainable. The meat market is ripe for reinvention. Why are we even thinking of reinvention? Because society has now taught us that fake is okay, if it is perfect, it can be real.

As the years go by; what are our options?

Food futurologist Morgaine Gaye has a suggestion; Insects. “Insects, or mini-livestock as they could become known, will become a staple of our diet” says Gaye. It's a win-win situation. Insects provide as much nutritional value as ordinary meat and are a great source of protein, according to researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. They also cost less to raise than cattle, consume less water and do not have much of a carbon footprint. Plus, there are an estimated 1,400 species that are edible to man. Things like crickets and grasshoppers will be ground down and used as an ingredient in things like burgers. Parts of the world's population already eat insects as a regular part of their diet. I know that in Uganda, we eat a type of grasshoppers [Esenene]. And so far, I have seen grasshopper pizza. [but no burgers yet] They are actually a delicacy. We also have white ants that come with the rain, they are edible. Caterpillars and locusts are popular in other parts of Africa, wasps are a delicacy in Japan and crickets are eaten in Thailand.

 

nseneneThe other alternative that we could be looking at is lab grown meat. Now, I am not advocate for this. But it looks like this is where we are headed, No? According to BBC, in 2012, Dutch scientists successfully produced in-vitro meat, also known as cultured meat. They grew strips of muscle tissue using stem cells taken from cows, which were said to resemble calamari in appearance. They hope to create the world's first "test-tube burger" by the end of the year. I do not know if that came to pass. A study by Oxford University found growing meat in a lab rather than slaughtering animals would significantly reduce greenhouse gases, along with energy and water use. Production also requires a fraction of the land needed to raise cattle. In addition it could be customized to cut the fat content and add nutrients. I am not sure if this is a choice for Africa, just yet. It is predicted that by 2050, if things don't change, we will see mass starvation across the world

Algae has also been predicted as a source of food in the years to come. Some in the sustainable food industry predict algae farming could become the world's biggest cropping industry. It has long been a staple in Asia and countries including Japan have huge farms of algae. I cannot even think what Algae will taste like if I ever get to eat it. We need to eat less meat and grow more vegetables and food. The doctors say so; less meat is good for us all. But then again the genetically modified crops [GMO] alongside other wrong agricultural practices that are creeping into the continent cause a huge threat. Climate change is also still happening, so rain and water shortages have become a huge threat to the environment.

After three continents witnessed food riots in 2007 and 2008, futurists said that the international food system was not as stable as it looked. They said that there was unprecedented competition for food due to population growth and changing diets. Experts then said that we could see mass starvation by the year 2050. Something needs to be done or else, we need to start teaching our children how to eat insects.

 

Ruth Aine Tindyebwa
Blogger/Online Communications

Read her personal blog; IN DEPTH which is at www.ruthaine.com

Read more about the author and her view on being a futurist.

 

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