Meat without animal and milk without cow. These are products that we were not aware of in the past, but which are now part of the weekly shopping of many people. But what will we eat in a few years? At the Dutch Design Week (DDW), visitors could take a look at the supermarket of the future.
Many food designers focus on food waste. So is Doreen Westphal, founder of Botanic Bites. The range includes mushroom massala, vegan stew and zwarma.
“All these products are made with the legs of oyster mushrooms. They grow in a truss and are cut off. The gates of that truss are very tough, so normally the grower throws them away,” she explains.
She started experimenting how you could still process this tough residual flow. “It’s a matter of cooking a lot and trying a lot. It should not only be edible, but also tasty,” says Westphal.
Tastes like chicken
She developed zwarma, shawarma made from mushrooms. It is for sale at a food truck at the DDW and tastes like pulled chicken. “Almost everyone says that,” she laughs. “Hundreds of servings have been sold in various places and no one has ever come back who didn’t like it. You can also make it at home from the mushrooms’ legs if you have shawarma seasoning and a slow cooker.”
Due to the corona crisis, many catering establishments have been closed in the past year and a half. Westphal therefore decided to process part of the mushroom legs in customer and ready meals such as bourguignon and mushroom masala.
“Because I have won various prizes, farmers are also increasingly able to find me. They contact me with the residual flows they have. I am now investigating what you can do with the outer hard skin of onions and with the hard skin. from Brussels sprouts. We are now trying to make crackers from the Brussels sprouts. I am researching how it can keep for a long time and remain crunchy.”
Supermarket shelf difficult to conquer
Her products are currently only available in small independent supermarkets and online. “I do have conversations with the well-known supermarkets. A tomato burger that I had made from tomatoes that had different sizes was briefly available at the Makro. But it is very difficult to get a permanent place at a supermarket as a small player. at Albert Heijn, for example, pitch sessions. I was already in the last ten, but didn’t win.”
It is a problem that many food designers struggle with. Westphal: “With innovative products you are also ahead of the times. Sometimes you are just too early. The vegetarian shelf used to be very small and now everyone eats meat substitutes.”
Lebanese snail sausage
Food designer Xander Cummings is also working on new products. With the help of a Lebanese butcher, he developed a snail sausage.
“A few years ago, several Italian companies outsourced the production of edible snails to Lebanon. The climate there is more favorable for growing the cabbage and lettuce they eat. However, the Italians forgot one thing. Under EU rules, you could live do not ship snails as trade from Lebanon to EU countries.”
So the Lebanese farmers were left with their snails. In the country itself, the animals are not eaten much. “I started talking to several people. What could we do with the snails? One of those conversations was with a sausage maker. The sausages are not slimy, because when you cook a snail, they dry out. All the moisture is out. There does require fat, so we use 50 percent pork and 50 percent snail.”
Cummings is now getting the snails in the Netherlands. “The Lebanese farmers cooked them to get the house off the snail, then the structure changed and unfortunately I could no longer process them. The intention is that they will soon remove them from the houses in a different way. I also want to develop a method to make the sausages without pork fat.”
Cummings expects the sausages to be available in regular supermarkets in the future. “The people who taste them do not notice any difference with a normal sausage in terms of taste. Only the texture is different, a bit more tender. Moreover, the production of snails emits much less CO2 than in the production of regular sausages and they are full of proteins .”
Smart label measures spoilage
Rui Xu developed the Fresh Tag, a ph-sensitive label that measures the freshness of meat and fish. This should prevent us from throwing away unnecessary food because the TBT date has passed (at least well until). The ink of the tags detects the pH value and microbacterial growth. If the fish or meat is no longer good, the color of the label changes. There is also a label for vegetables that are CO2 sensitive, she explains. Freshness is measured by measuring the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
“I started the research in 2019, with the help of lab specialists. I want less food to be thrown away. The label is slowly changing color. From farm-fresh to something less fresh, but edible and no longer edible.”
One problem: food manufacturers don’t want to spend a lot of money on packaging. “The labels that we now make are still too expensive for the market. We now want to develop it further. And another problem: in many countries you have to contend with your own regulations, which means that you are no longer allowed to shop after the TBT date. But within Europe, the acceptance of smart labels is being considered.”