Future Food: Ferming

George Manbiot has an interesting opinion piece in The Guardian: Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet. To quote him:

It’s a primordial soup of bacteria, taken from the soil and multiplied in the laboratory, using hydrogen extracted from water as its energy source. When the froth was siphoned through a tangle of pipes and squirted on to heated rollers, it turned into a rich yellow flour.

Though Manbiot discusses this process, called ferming, in relation to terrestrial agricultural, this technology is of great interest for future space settlements as well. Just another quote:

The hydrogen pathway used by Solar Foods is about 10 times as efficient as photosynthesis. But because only part of a plant can be eaten, while the bacterial flour is mangetout, you can multiply that efficiency several times. And because it will be brewed in giant vats the land efficiency, the company estimates, is roughly 20,000 times greater.

Other benefits of this technology according to Manbiot are:

  • cheaper food
  • healthier food

Manbiot “predicts” that by 2050 only fruit and vegetables will still be produced in the “traditional” manner.

However, despite these apparent benefits, it is still the question whether the public will actually approve of this method of food production. Also it will be necessary to establish ferming products are actually a proper and safe source of food for humans.

Nevertheless ferming might be more easily adopted by space settlers as both solar power and water are abundant in outer space, while agricultural land will be limited in early habitats. Also space settlers might more willing to accept this novelty food, since they have already opted to live in an artificial environment.

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