This year’s Seeds and Chips food innovation summit in Milan brought together some of the world’s foremost protagonists in the future of food, including chefs, entrepreneurs, academics and curious foodies, plus one very special guest: the keynote speaker this year was none other than former US President Barack Obama, who spoke at length on his concerns around climate change, drawing particular attention to the link to food production and food waste. It was not all doom and gloom however; the President’s message was largely one of hope and opportunity. Read more about the speech here.
But what else happened? Here are five things we learnt at Seeds and Chips 2017.
The only way is up
“Vertical farming shows us the way to go,” – so said Professor Tom Boyde of the University of Hong Kong. Vertical farming products were everywhere at Seeds and Chips, from large-scale commercial urban agriculture solutions to small contraptions for the keen amateur gardener, in all shapes and sizes. The Association for Vertical Farming were on hand to answer questions.
The restaurant of the future is digital
Construction and hunting are the only industries less digitised than the restaurant industry we were told, but that is set to change. Online booking service The Fork reported that in Italy at least, 80% of online bookings are now made through a mobile app and the company implored restaurants to take advantage of the opportunities online booking has to offer, by, for example, offering excusive online deals outside of peak times. According to Konstantin Zvereff, CEO and founder of BlueCart, “The future of the hospitality industry is aggregation.” The BlueCart app is an all in one system of procurement for restaurants and Zvereff suggested that the restaurants of the future would use apps like his to crowdsource user data, the “most valuable resource in the world,” according to Tellspec’sIsabel Hoffman.
Obama wants us to eat less beef
Former US President Barack Obama is huge steak lover, as we learned from his conversational address with former White House chef and policy advisor Sam Kass (Kass: “We’ve had thousands of steaks together,” Obama: “Well not thousands.”), but he wants us all to be eating less beef to help cut down on carbon emissions. “I think people naturally understand... air pollution, so they can make the connection between air pollution and greenhouse gasses. People aren’t as familiar with the impact of cows,” he said.
We learnt a new and unpleasant phrase at Seeds and Chips 2017. A ‘food swamp,’ as explained by Sudhvir Singh, Director of Policy at the Eat Foundation, is a region, town, neighbourhood, etc. flooded with unhealthy food options, with limited access to nutritious alternatives. The Eat Foundation’s ambition is to “reform the global food system and enable us to feed a growing global population with healthy food from a healthy planet.”
Remember that bacon-flavoured seaweed we introduced you to a couple of years ago? Turns out it doesn’t really taste like bacon at all. It’s still delicious though, and healthy. If you’re more interested in seaweed-flavoured seaweed, here are eight edible seaweeds to try.
Staff shortages are hitting the hospitality sector hard, prompting some restaurants to look outside the industry to train those without restaurant experience for life in the kitchen. Andrew Friedman finds out more.