Hydroponic glasshouses, ceramic moulded cutlery and equipment for growing superfoods: the food section of the Maker Faire in Rome – the fourth edition of the international annual event monitoring the world of innovation and new technologies – presents new projects and ideas, to confirm the emerging trend for sustainable home-grown produce.
In the wake of Expo Milano 2015, 133 million euros have been spent in the last 12 months in Europe alone in the field of food technology: a sure sign of a growing business opportunity that caters to a new eco-friendly and anti-waste attitude.
As the mouthpiece of this new attitude, the Future Food Institute has curated the food section of the Maker Faire event in Rome. With its Officucina, a kitchen-workshop hybrid, this young Italian scenario has been preaching the need for renewal for some time now.
Fine Dining Lovers has selected six of the most interesting projects, which we believe deserve greater visibility.
1. The Algae Factory
Born of an idea conceived by three young Italians, The Algae Factory sets out to combat malnutrition through the use of one of the most nutrient-rich foods available: algae.
Specialising in the creation of Spirulina and produced thanks to domestic solar-powered bioreactors, they supply foods of all types containing this ingredient, from bread rolls for hamburgers to bars of organic chocolate.
However, they are not only actively engaged on the technological front: of the crops they cultivate mainly in Madagascar, half of the spirulina yield is placed at the disposal of the local workers to combat increasing famine.
2. Express Mushrooms
An example of blue economy, in which waste is turned into energy for something new, this agricultural start-up reutilises coffee dregs as a mineral-rich soil for growing mushrooms.
It has standing agreements with several bars to collect their coffee waste twice weekly. The dregs are then inoculated together with the spore for 25 days, after which, the mushrooms are ready to be cultivated. Just open the sachet contained in the box, immerse it in water for 12 hours, spray it three times a day and in one week you will see your protein and lovastatin-rich pleurotus spring up.
The remaining humus is not to be thrown away, of course: it makes an excellent quality compost. This is domestic farming in small spaces, with zero impact on the environment.
3. Livin Farms Hive
Home farming (and breeding) has invaded every sphere of activity, including that of edible insects: Livin Farms is a sort of “hive” for keeping in the kitchen; it is simple to use and occupies very little space.
To create your own colony of edible worms just place the chrysalises in the uppermost compartment and wait for them to turn into insects when they will deposit the eggs destined to drop into the compartment below – and so on, in a cascade effect. A ventilation system prevents unpleasant odours, while smart heat sensors will maintain the temperature at an ideal level for proliferation.
After seven days, the worms will fall into a tray and will be ready for cooking or freezing while the new chrysalises will remain in the compartment above, ready to found new colonies.
A few years ago, we used to jokingly remark on the fact that smartphones could even make coffee. This no longer sounds so far fetched: Dovetailed is a British start-up that has built a small 3D printer, entirely managed from a smartphone to create new forms and flavours.
The Nūfood robot creates small edible spheres, tiny liquid bombs. You insert the fluids of your choice (juices, alcoholic drinks or even creams) and via an app you decide in what form you want the spheres to aggregate.
Thanks to a reaction with sodium alginate, a fine outer membrane forms to encapsulate a liquid centre. You can blend different juices to create an entirely new fruit or add the ingredients for a cocktail. Anyone for a Manhattan bonbon?
While some people view cooking as relaxation time there are others who prefer to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen: Eskesso is a project combining convenience and innovation designed for those who want to come home and find their dinner ready.
The idea is based on a cylinder which is remotely controlled through a smartphone for sous-vide cooking. You just prepare a bag with the ingredients, immerse it in water together with the cylinder and select the temperature and cooking times.
Sous-vide cooking is not only convenient but it keeps smells and flavours trapped inside throughout the process, so that the full flavour can be appreciated when the food is consumed.
No Mediterranean table is complete without a bottle of olive oil. It is a great pity that climate change and erratic weather conditions have also affected our olive crops.
Revoilution is a small olive press for keeping in the kitchen, an authentic express extra-virgin olive oil machine. Just insert a small cube containing nothing but olive pulp, press a button and voilà. Cold pressed oil in your own home.
With varying degrees of aromatic intensity and a greater concentration of polyphenols, but without the woody taste associated with many supermarket oils, this gadget perfectly reconciles quality and eco-friendliness.