With all the talk of GMOs have you ever wondered how far genetic engineering will take us?
When it comes to engineering food scientists have done quite a lot (for better or for worse), from salmon that can grow twice as fast as usual to bananas that produce vaccines.
Since the publishing of the 1865 paper "Experiments on Plant Hybridization" by Gregor Mendel we have gotten used to putting different plants together to get a new one, which begs the question: what kind of food can we be looking at eating in the future?
Brusselkale is already in a produce aisle near you after all, and there's more where that came from. An article on i09 took a look at exactly what we can expect from bioengineered plants in the future, and moving forward we can assume that food is going to get... well, weird.
For example: hamburgatoes.
Beans don't taste as good as meat to many people. Yet there is no reason they can't be engineered to taste like small chicken nuggets. Processed fungus protein called mycoprotein, sold in grocery stores, tastes like chicken already. But why stop there? Potatoes with small hamburgers in the middle sounds good — let's call them "hamburgatoes."
Thanks to the power of food marketing, you can expect that if someone can find the science and technology to make a new product through genetic engineering, someone will eat it.
Consider the following future foods: pearapples (fruit transgenic hybrids that taste like apple and pear at the same time), peacherries, nectarmelons (watermelons that taste like nectarines), bananaberries, and so on. If people would eat them, someone will want to create and sell them. Coconut flavored pineapples (why aren't they called coconapples?), which already exist, helped pave the way. If you can dream up the flavor, size, and texture, it will be possible.
Yes, that's right: coconut flavored pineapples, which might just make your morning fruit plate taste more like a bottle of tropical sun tan lotion.
Daniel Berleant ends his article by saying, "the creation of life at the limits is an engineering field that is barely in its infancy, but with a future likely to be more strange and dramatic than most dare dream."
It's true that we have come to be enamored with science - it has done some truly amazing things for us - but the question is, when is dreaming going too far? Do we need crazy plant hybrids like a cucumbertato or a kaleapple (wouldn't that make all the kale salad makers out there very happy) or should we just stick to growing the heirloom varieties?
You have to wonder if in our quest for scientific and technological greatness we are losing something in the process. Certainly our connection with what's natural and what isn't.
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Image: Mark Rain