Adding a Seat at the Table for a More Robust Future of Food
These days, when we hear news or read flashy headlines about the “future of food,” the majority are telling the same story: alternative meats and dairy are the way forward. From technologies touting cell-based breakthroughs to precision fermentation, the vast majority of projects undertaken to better our food system center on their quality of being plant-based –– and the personal and planetary benefits that come with it.
And that’s all well and good, but it’s also important to remember that there are other issues within the food system that aren’t completely (or even at all) solved by a plant-based burger alone. From substantial labor issues within the production of cacao and coffee to millions affected by food allergies, there are major societal and planetary hiccups in the way we currently do things. Which is why we’ve set out to tackle some of these seemingly sidelined issues, so that solutions aimed at bettering what (and how) we eat are inclusive and don’t unintentionally leave some of us behind.
Addressing Industries Often Forgotten
In the quest to perfect the ultimate vegan foods, key areas of our food system that are in need of attention regularly take the backseat. Two of these areas hit hardest are the cacao and coffee industries. While there are more than a handful of sustainably-sourced, ethical chocolate and coffee companies making a positive impact within the respective industries, it’s unclear (and unlikely) that these solutions alone can promise a future of food that includes these staples, or at least in the ways we enjoy them now.
Take coffee for example. In a recent Vox article, it’s noted that the industry is hanging on by a thread, with coffee varieties riddled by poor flavor and threats from a changing climate. In short, the not-so-distant future of your morning cup of joe could be characterized by higher prices, lower quality, or even worse –– could be gone entirely.
The story is a similar one for the cocoa industry, with added labor and human rights issues. Simply put, the production of chocolate comes with harm to our planet as well as those involved in the cultivation of our favorite sweet treat. In the Ivory Coast for example, where a sizable portion of cocoa is farmed, over 80% of forests have been lost in the last 50 years due to the cultivation of the staple crop. Not only that, but the production of chocolate comes with wage and working condition challenges for those directly involved in the industry.
Our solution(s) that can help supplement the efforts of small-scale farmers and ethically-produced chocolate and coffee? Cacao- and bean-free replacements, respectively. While these reimagined versions aren’t meant to be the only solution to solving these issues, they’re a way to ensure the future of chocolate and coffee are more stable than they currently are, so that we can continue enjoying them without contributing to the problems at hand.
Bye-Bye Sticker Shock
Now, when it comes to promises of mitigating climate change and other key issues in the form of our favorite foods, we’re well aware that conjures up images of dollar signs and hefty price tags. But when we set out to create reimagined versions of classics, it was imperative that we did so in a way that everyone could afford. Because our favorite foods are meant to be enjoyed by everyone.
The current landscape of alternative foods, ones that can be (to some degree) substituted out for their originals, often either deliver on taste but at a cost to consumers, or are more affordable but don’t exactly make our mouths water. But why can’t we have both, while still tackling key issues from deforestation to food allergies? It’s time for a future of food that checks off all the boxes and bids adieu to compromise.
A More Familiar, Less Foreign Future
The future of food is often characterized as being steeped in cutting-edge technologies that will revolutionize what we eat. But that narrative, one that takes us away from the personal and human connection we inherently feel to food, isn’t sustainable or likely to excite us enough to nudge us in the right direction. And besides, we don’t want our food to be made in a lab. We want real, delicious food that can support our desire for a better future without taking away the joy of food we’ve experienced in the past.
Our approach to crafting that next generation of food is one that balances our past connections to what we eat with adaptations for a sustained future. What does that look like? A Peanut-Free Spread that you’ll want to eat by the spoonful, straight out of the jar. A Cacao-Free Chocolate perfect for those late-night cravings. A Bean-Free Coffee to get your going in the morning. We’ve taken what we truly love about our favorite food and drink –– how they make us feel –– and replicated them in new ways for a future we can all get behind.