Humans are always finding new sources of foods in the wild, rediscovering long-forgotten foods, and inventing their own foods.
In the future, as the global population swells, climate change increases, and staple food sources are strained to the limit, humans will have to get even more ingenious with their diets.
Here are seven foods that you could be chowing down on in the future.
You can keep your windowsill herb garden for now — but in the future your kitchen might have a metal cabinet for harvesting mealworms.
Not only are these little squirmy things packed with protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins, but they’re also way more environmentally friendly than red meat. Harvesting mealworms generates just 4% of the greenhouse emissions that producing red meat does.
More than 2 billion people are eating insects already, so it can’t be that gross. According to chef and mealworm entrepreneur Katharina Unger, they smell somewhere in between mushroom and meat,, have a bit of a crunch, and have a slightly nutty flavor. They’re perfect for meatballs or as an addition to a salad.
Next insect on the menu? Crickets!
Crickets have blown up in some foodie circles, and they’re already consumed by large swaths of the world population. Outside of the West, eating insects isn’t weird.
Crickets, like mealworms, are dense with nutrition and very environmentally friendly.
You can saute a cricket, toss it in the oven and bake it, put it on a skewer and grill it, or buy some cricket flour and make cookies!
If you’ve ever seen a cockroach skitter around your apartment, the thought of milking it for nutrition probably hasn’t crossed your mind.
To call cockroach milk, “milk,” is a bit of stretch in the first place. These hideous bugs don’t produce milk like cows do. Instead, cockroaches develop crystal-like substances inside their guts that are used to nourish their young.
It turns out that this stuff is some of the most nutritious food on Earth.
Is it safe for humans? Researchers are trying to figure that out. Then they’ll work on scaling it up — because you can’t really get that much volume from cockroaches.
As fish populations plummet everywhere, people will have to get creative about harvesting the oceans.
The next marine life to hit your plate could be jellyfish. With a texture between “cartilage and rubber,” these billowy creatures don’t have much flavor, but they’re great vehicles of flavor.
A jellyfish stuffed with some veggies doesn’t sound too bad.
Seaweed is the poster child of environmentally friendly. It might taste slimy, but each crunch of seaweed is a crunch toward a healthier planet because seaweed has a negative carbon footprint. It’s also full of nutrients.
Currently, humanity gets 2 percent of its food from the oceans. All the world’s agricultural output could be done in 1 percent of the ocean’s surface area. To put that into perspective: humanity allocates about 40 percent of all land mass and 75 percent of all fresh water to agriculture.
So if the world shifted to sea farming, land and freshwater sources could be rehabilitated and better conserved.
If insect protein isn’t doing it for you, scientists are cooking up alternatives to your favorite meats in the lab.
Recently, a team unveiled a lab-grown, meatless hamburger in one of David Chang’s New York restaurants and they’re claiming it’s superior.
It bleeds like meat, has the same texture, and supposedly tastes similar. The best part about this project is that it’s way more environmentally friendly.
This is a bit of a catch-all. If you’re opposed to GMOs today, you might feel differently in the next decade as their benefits become more well-known.
GMO crops can be more resilient in the face of droughts and floods; need less pesticides; and be more nutritious.
The whole process is a just a super-accelerated version of artificial selection — something that farmers have practiced for millennia.
Stay tuned for a Global Citizen explainer on GMOs in the weeks ahead.
One thing that’s clear — the world needs more food solutions to support a growing population with declining resources. While some of these might gross you out now, they very well could be the food of the future.