There's no denying that meatballs are synonymous with IKEA, along with flatpack furniture and those tiny pencils. But now the Swedish retailer is looking to the future and, with the help of a group of creatives, it has created a "visual exploration" of what its meatballs could look like in 20 years time.
The Tomorrow's Meatball project looks at the different and more sustainable ways we could be producing and eating food in the not-too-distant future.
The project's creators have joined forces in IKEA’s research lab Space10 to create the meatballs. They hope their work will raise awareness of increasing food demands globally and the issues that meat-eating and food production are causing for the planet.
Photographs from the food series show meatballs made from alternative ingredients or that have been produced using technological innovations - hello 3D food printing.
One meatball has been formulated from nutrient-dense powders, which the artists credit as "game changers for treating severe malnutrition in developing countries". Meanwhile another is made up of bugs.
The project is the brainchild of Bas Van de Poel and Kaave Pour from Space10. They collaborated with chef and food designer Simon Perez, photographer Lukas Renlund, graphic designer Karin Borring and storyteller Simon Caspersen.
Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Simon Caspersen explained: "Our goal with this project was to kickstart a conversation about future food scenarios.
"We wanted to celebrate food diversity and technological innovations that could help us combat the explosive demand for more food in the future and explore ways to produce food more sustainable. And then of course with a visual and playful approach."
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The project hopes to raise awareness of the fact that meat-eating and our increasing demand for food could become a global problem.
"Our meat production is impacting global warming significantly, uses dwindling supplies of fresh water, destroys forests and grasslands, and causes soil erosion, while pollution and animal waste create dead zones in coastal areas and smother coral reefs," reads the project site.
"In addition to this, our demand for food will increase with 70% within the next 35 years according to the UN. We need to be smarter and more efficient about the way we produce our food and be more open minded about food diversity, as our global population grows and climate change cuts into the water and land that's available for farming."
One of the creatives involved with the project Bas van de Poel said: "It's quite difficult to picture that in the near future we will be eating insects or artificial meat. But, with the increasing demand for food, we need to start considering adding alternative ingredients to our daily menu.
"You could say that Tomorrow's Meatball gets people a little more familiar with the unfamiliar."
While it's only a prediction of where our own actions could take us, the project is certainly a thought-provoking one.
Grains, legumes and nuts continue to gain in health reputation for providing abundant protein and micronutrients. In the near future, more and more local farmers will breed new varieties of grains to thrive in their regions, marrying classic seed selection with modern technology.
3D food printing has the potential to save the environment, while revolutionizing food production - converting alternative ingredients such as proteins from algae, beet leaves, or insects into delicious meals. In addition, 3D foot printing opens the door to food customization and personalized nutrition.
Algae are the fastest growing plant organisms in nature and is a great alternative source of vitamins, protein and minerals. Because of this, the mean and green aquatic plant has a lot of potential as a scalable food source, as it can be grown anywhere – often in vertical fermentation tanks – without using large amounts of land or water.
Powdered food has been gathering traction lately. The meal replacement is available in both liquid and powdered forms and includes all the elements of a healthy diet: protein, carbs, unsaturated fats, alongside all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Today already, nutrient-dense products have become game changers for treating severe malnutrition in developing countries.
Urban farming is booming. More and more people nowadays are growing food as local as possible. Local food represents a serious alternative to the global food model. It reduces “food miles”, offers fresh products all-year-round, generates employments, creates greenbelts, and strengthens cities’ resilience to climate change.
Up to one third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people according to UN Food and Agricultural Organisation. Food waste is prominent in the efforts to combat hunger, improve food security in the world’s poorest countries and preserving the environment. Reducing this loss is a critical step towards securing enough food for a fast growing world population.
Artificial meat is an animal-flesh product, grown inside a laboratory. The first lab grown beef burger was presented in 2013 and cost $325,000. Today, that very same burger costs only $10. Artificial meat is a viable near-future alternative to the increasingly unsustainable practice of cattle farming.
Insect eating is common to cultures in most part of the world. Over 1,000 different insect species are eaten in 80% of the world's nations. Insects generally contain more protein and are lower in fat than traditional meats and have about 20 times higher food conversion efficiency – making it a viable addition to our current menu.