Grasshopper taco

Eleven foods that are changing the world

The headline may be rather dramatic, but this is an interesting take by Time magazine on some interesting food developments. Menu highlights: insect tacos, rice that stops blindness, noodles that can be “printed” in space, and hybrid confectioneries.

The grasshopper taco

As far as food sources go, there are few better than insects: the average grasshopper, for example, is low-cost, low-calorie, exists in abundance, and contains 29% of your daily protein value. That’s a main reason why they’re such a diet staple for some two billion people in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Yet in the Western world, insects are considered gross—meaning that in countries like America, livestock still reigns supreme (even though its production can do more damage to the environment than automobiles, according to the UN FAO).

But that’s starting to change, thanks food innovations like insect tacos—available at Antojeria La Popular, a popular restaurant in New York City, among others—which are making nontraditional protein seem more palatable. Meanwhile, Sushi Mazi in Portland has started serving grasshopper sushi. And Berlin’s Never Never Land restaurant serves gourmet insects on salads and even in chocolate sauce.

Golden riceGolden rice

In parts of Asia and throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Vitamin A deficiency not only causes blindness, it also kills 670,000 children under five each year. Problem is, good sources of Vitamin A, like carrots or sweet potatoes, aren’t grown nearby, and for most people, are far too costly to import. Instead, many of the societies’ diets rely almost entirely on rice.

So scientists created a genetically modified version that’s rich in Vitamin A. The golden rice, as its known, has already been introduced for testing in the Philippines and Taiwan.

And although there have been controversies—Greenpeace has said corporate control of agriculture via genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is dangerous and foodies complain that GMOS philosophically undermine the back-to-our-roots slow food movement—there are signs that it’s working: the American Society for Nutrition, for example, suggests that one cup of golden rice consumed daily could provide 50% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A.

Plus, as Josh Schonwald, author of The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches From The Future of Food, argues, “Savouring the slowest food and foraging for wild asparagus shouldn’t be viewed as at odds with championing lab-engineered vitamin-A enhanced rice that could save children from blindness. Pairing [ those foods] is not an incompatible, ethically-confused choice.”

Kelp pastaKelp pasta

Although oceans cover more than 70% of the earth’s surface, they only produce 2% of its food. Not surprisingly, that’s led many experts to say the solutions to the world’s hunger problems lie in the sea, not the land. And fish aren’t the most viable option: the UN Environment Program has said that our fish supplies are on track to drastically decrease within the next half century.

Not so with seaweed. Kelp, a type of seaweed, has a number of benefits: it’s rich in nutrients, low in fat and one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. One study form the Netherlands estimates that only one percent of the Earth’s ocean surface would be needed to grow the amount of seaweed equal to the amount of all food we grow on land.

Some cultures have already caught on. “In Korean culture, seaweed is like bread,” Jin Jun, the founder of SeaSnax told TIME in June. Companies like SeaSnax are trying to market kelp in the Western world, where we’re already getting used to eating seaweed salads with out sushi. It’s an acquired taste, though—for now. Read the full article