Is it premature to start thinking about what lunch will look like 30 years from now? The Nikkei Marketing Journal (May 11) doesn't think so. Worrisome signs are already here: climate change, and with it, shortages of fresh water. Warming ocean temperatures. And failing crops that point to the prospect of insufficient food for the earth's still-growing human population.
Some people have already begun to strike out on their own. Take Sumi Masuda, a resident of Osaka's Suita City.
"My monthly electric bill's about 1,000 yen," she says. "That gets me about 30 heads of lettuce." She grows them in elongated tubs inside the oshiire (closet) normally used to store a futon, with "sunshine" supplied by a 10,000-lux LED tube, which she says is designed to provide the "ideal wavelength for growing vegetables."
Masuda began her small farm about 18 months ago, and as her store purchases for lettuce products declined, she has since expanded it to other vegetables and even sea vegetables like umi-budo, edible algae purchased via mail order from Kagoshima. With the aim of developing a self-sustaining cycle, she saves raw waste as compost and "farms" insects that can be used for fish or bird feed. "In one household, I've got an entire planet," she smiles.
Her next project is to generate her own electricity to power the LEDs.
Another emerging food for humans of 2050 is expected to be insects. At the Ameya Yokocho (Ame-yoko) shopping street near JR Ueno station can be found a vending machine selling edible insects like crickets -- which are said to go well with udon noodles -- and also arachnids such as scorpions.
The vending machine, which was installed last February, is supplied with merchandise by Bugs Farm, based in Saitama's Toda City. Prices of the items start from 450 yen.
Another machine offering bug snacks has already been installed some time before in the Akihabara electronics wholesale district. It has been designed with bright pink trim, so as to attract female customers.
"Next, we've got our eyes on other hangouts of young females, like Harajuku and Shibuya," says the proprietor of Kome to Circus, which operates the machine.
From January, Yamamori KK, a food producer based in Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture, launched sales of its 2050 Curry. Sold in retort pouches, the new product features a spicy gravy containing morsels of a soya-based meat substitute.
According to the company's website, the curry is available in three flavors: garlic-chili, pepper chili and ma-lah (with Chinese style spice).
The product developer of 2050 Curry at Yamamori tells Nikkei, "I'd like people to develop a sense of the looming problem of obtaining foodstuffs." He decided to go with curry because it's practically a national dish among Japanese people. And the company went with a sci-fi package design that suggested a meatless future and the highly spiced flavor of the contents. "We did that to stimulate young males, who are less likely to be concerned with environmental problems," the developer added.
A young gent named Tadokoro who offered to serve as guinea pig gave the new curry high marks.
"I actually thought I was eating meat," he said. "Soya meat typically has the image of being dry and crumbly, but that can't be said in this case."
Yamamori's 2050 Curry varieties retail for 360 yen per package. The company is reportedly at work developing less spicy varieties.© Japan Today