I Design the Food You Haven’t Even Eaten Yet

I research new ways to produce healthy or more efficient food. It’s about using technology to make better food in the future.

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Oct 3 2016, 10:55am

I didn't study at a normal design academy or an art school. I studied at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, and did industrial design, which usually requires making furniture or programming.

But I couldn't be bothered with making chairs. In my second year, I came across a project about cultured meat and that was the start of me connecting design with my interest in food. I learned how to combine this passion with technology, science, and art.

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Netherlands-based food designer Chloe Rutzerveld's Digestive Food project, which looks at unabsorbed nutrients. All photos courtesy Chloe Rutzerveld.

From then on, I started to look at the technology behind food. I asked how we could make different products from those technologies, and that formed the basis for what I do now. I research new ways to produce healthy or more efficient food. It's about using technology to make better food in the future.

READ MORE: Future of Food on MUNCHIES

It's also very abstract—like In vitro ME [a project that saw Rutzerveld create a "bioreactor-jewel" that nestled within human body cavities to cultivate human muscle tissue]. I don't really think we'll be making cultured meat from our bodies in the future! It's more about how far people are willing to go to eat meat in the future. Everything is so easy if it's still from an animal.

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Rutzerveld's In vitro ME project questioned how far people were willing to go to eat meat.

With my Edible Growth project, which explores how we can make nutritious 3-D printed food, I wanted to ask why we're only producing chocolate and cookies and sweet stuff with the technology. For me, that isn't food. If we want to take this technology seriously in the future and produce real food, then what do we need to do? It's all about showing the possibilities.

I communicate messages to the public through workshops and experimental dinners. You can use all of the senses. If I give a lecture or talk about these issues around food, it's passive. When people are able to be hands-on with the technology or with the food, they really understand what I'm talking about and how I come up with my ideas. Then we can have a decent discussion about whether we'll eat cultured meat in the future or if we want 3-D printed food.

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The Edible Growth project looked at nutritious 3-D printed foods.

When I started with food design, it was more speculative. After graduating and starting my own business, I realised that I needed to think more realistically. If you draw a line, on the left side, you have things that are existing now. On the right of that line, you have the sci-fi and the futuristic and the things from the movies. In the middle is where the innovation happens.

My new project, STROOOP!, is in the middle. It's not super crazy or unfeasible.

I'm collaborating with a company who make vegetable juice from the by-product of scraping carrots for the supermarket. I'm using their by-product: the fibre. I wanted to create a new product with as little additives as possible and show what else you can make from the by-products. I want to show that using the natural characteristics in a smart way can produce new products.

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Rutzerveld's latest project, STROOOP!, creates Dutch waffles from vegetable waste.

In this case, I choose to make a Dutch stroopwafel because I'm using Dutch produce, and the stroopwafel is symbolic for the Netherlands. It's also something that people can relate to.

I think the future of food will go in multiple directions. It'll all be very high tech and monitor the body—food that's not big on flavour and more about nutrients. I also think there will be a rise in urban farming, growing your own, and being more attached to nature.

I hope we continue eating less meat and become more aware of what we eat. There's a huge loss of sensory experience because of mass-produced food, so I think we'll become more focused on the textures and flavours of what we eat.

As told to Daisy Meager.

Chloé Rutzerveld is a Netherlands-based food designer. After graduating from the Eindhoven University of Technology in 2014, she set up a food concept and design business. She explores societal food issues with the public through talks, workshops, and dinners.

Every day this week, MUNCHIES is exploring the future of food on planet Earth, from lab-grown meat and biohacking to GMOs and the precarious state of our oceans. Find out more here.