TIME’s 100 Best Inventions – food-bev laureates

Every year, TIME highlights the Best Inventions that are making the world better, smarter and even a bit more fun. Here are the food-bev winners for 2019….

To assemble the 2019 list, TIME solicited nominations across a variety of categories from its editors and correspondents around the world, as well as through an online application process.

Then TIME evaluated each contender based on key factors, including originality, creativity, influence, ambition and effectiveness.

The result: 100 groundbreaking inventions that are changing the way mankind lives, works, plays and thinks about what’s possible. Here are the six foodbev laureates….

Agriculture, updated

Millions of people around the globe suffer from food insecurity, and experts say that number could increase as the climate changes. The founders of AeroFarms say its technology, which includes a technique for indoor farming that uses 95% less water than field farming, can help.

A key advance to the company’s patented ­technology is a new growing medium: rather than grow in dirt, these crops grow in a reusable cloth made from recycled water bottles. Instead of being doused with water, the crops are hydrated with a gentle mist.

AeroFarms has already produced crops like kale and arugula at scale, selling to big grocery chains, restaurant providers and, beginning this year, even an airline. “We’re the only commercial grower in the world doing what we’re doing,” says co-founder Marc Oshima.

AeroFarms & Postmate

Meal delivery, modernised: Postmate’s Serve

US food delivery service, Postmate, is planning to introduce Serve, a robot, to its 350,000 people-strong team. Serve has two eyes and four wheels and navigates the sidewalks remotely monitored by a human pilot. Postmates says it can carry 25kg and travel 30 miles on a single charge.

Customers receive their meals by using a touchscreen on the rover. Designed to navigate in urban spaces with more ease and less environmental impact than a larger vehicle, Postmates says Serve reduces delivery costs and traffic while increasing sales for local restaurants. The service has initial plans to roll out in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Vending veggies: Farmer’s Fridge

There’s a panic that sometimes creeps in around lunchtime, when hunger meets indecision and, suddenly, the only thing immediately available is unhealthy fast food. Farmer’s Fridge is attempting to solve that problem by putting freshly made, produce-­filled meals into vending machines.

Gone are the chips and candies you might have bought in a hunger-fueled frenzy; instead, the machines distribute salads, wraps, sandwiches and more — all made from scratch in a kitchen in Chicago and shipped or delivered to the machines daily, Monday through Friday. The average lunch: $7.

To address the issue of waste, the company delivers food that’s perhaps a bit wilted but still good to eat to community food services for those in need.

With more than 400 vending machines throughout the US — including in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia — Farmer’s Fridge is aiming to be near urban offices, gyms and homes soon.

Farmer’s Fridge & Magic Spoon Cereal

Protein-packed: Magic Spoon Cereal

After selling Exo, a company that makes protein bars out of powdered crickets, Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz embarked on their next venture: sweet cereal for diet-­conscious grownups. And this one is not made out of bugs.

In April, the pair launched Magic Spoon — a cereal that’s high in protein, gluten- and grain-free, and low in sugar and carbs — to stand up against brands of cereal that are marketed as healthy options.

“What we’re doing is completely flipping the nutritional profile of cereal on its head,” Lewis says. “It’s basically turning a protein shake or protein bar into the taste and texture and shape as cereal.”

Magic Spoon costs $10 a box, and its four flavours are currently sold only via the company’s website. But that hasn’t stopped consumers; the company sold out of its many months’ supply within a few weeks of launching, Lewis says, and has already received $6.5-million in seed ­funding.

A better plant burger: Impossible Burger 2.0

The classic veggie burger got an upgrade with the Impossible Burger 2.0, an alternative to ground beef that even chars and bleeds, despite being made entirely from plant-based proteins.

Its makers have capitalised on public desire for a more sustainable burger this year, making headlines for partnering with Burger King and launching their plant-based meat at grocery chains on the East and West Coasts. The company plans to build on its product line by launching other meat alternatives, like faux chicken and fish. For now, though, “Our competition is only the cow,” a company spokesperson says.

Impossible Burger 2.0 & Soylent Squared

A new breakfast bar: Soylent Squared

When the makers of Soylent, the cult “complete meal in every bottle” nutritional drink, discovered that most people consumed their original 400-calorie product in the morning for breakfast, they decided to create a quicker, breakfast-bar version: Soylent Squared.

At just 100 calories, the bar gives people more flexibility in choosing how much they want to consume, says Andrew Thomas, Soylent’s vice president of brand marketing. Rather than drinking another 400-calorie Soylent drink if they’re still hungry, people can eat one or two Soylent Squared bars as a snack. And with 5 g of protein per bar, three or four make a satisfying meal. The bars are also sustainable.

“We use ingredients that not only make the bar good for you but good for the planet,” Thomas says. The bars, which come in three flavors, have been on the market since April and cost $1 each.

TIME.com: You can view all the laureates here!