Food designer stimulates and challenges
Chloé Rutzerveld on the food of tomorrow
Take a look at the work of food and concept designer Chloé Rutzerveld and you’ll be moved. Whether you’re enthused or walk away in disgust: with her futuristic installations, exhibitions and experimental conceptual dinners, Chloé makes people think about food. They arouse admiration, discomfort and horror in equal measure. And Chloé asks questions, also during her lecture at CWF2019. “I’m not a trend watcher, I just come up with innovations. And I question them.”
Do you think that after CWF2019 you will look at the contents of your fridge in the same way? Forget it, because you can’t escape Chloé Rutzerveld. She is appearing as a speaker and her Food Experience can be found throughout the park theatre: all kinds of installations and exhibitions about the food of the future. They are about short supply chains, local production and the creative reuse of waste. But also about alternative protein sources (‘The transition to an animal-independent future’) and the difference between functional food and the experience of food. In the Future Food Formula, for example, you can work as a high-tech farmer: develop a growth recipe in which you set the growth factors, such as light, temperature, CO2 and water. That’s how you make your own future tomato. Along the way, you will learn a lot about the physiology of plants and the technology of indoor farming.
‘How can you develop new ways of producing and consuming food by thinking creatively?’
Letting go of familiar food
Chloé Rutzerveld will speak about design, technology and nutrition. And about their combination, she says. “How can you develop new ways of producing and consuming food by thinking creatively? I look at the latest (food) technologies and think about what more could be possible to make food and food production more sustainable or more efficient. Health also plays a major role in this. In addition, I talk about completely new eating systems for the future, in which we let go of familiar food. We look at new eating systems, based on the direct production of nutrients with the help of micro-organisms. What happens if we no longer grow potatoes but produce carbohydrates directly? How do our lives, bodies and minds change if we switch to a functional eating system based on our genome? After all, we also eat because we like it and find it delicious. But if we disconnect the functionality of food from the sensory experience, how do we add this experience and enjoyment again?”
Edible ecosystem from the printer
Since her Edible Growth graduation project at Eindhoven University of Technology (2014, cum laude), Chloé Rutzerveld has been working in an investigative way on issues that are interwoven with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as ‘Zero Hunger’, ‘Good Health and Well-being’ and ‘Climate Action’. Is Chloé a designer? Artist? Food technologist? “I want to learn everything, speak to lots of experts and look for possible answers,” says Chloé, who combines scientific knowledge with technology and design without pointing fingers at anyone or anything. She comes up with alternative possibilities and makes prototypes. For Edible Growth, for example, she researched how to create an edible ecosystem with a 3D food printer. Layers of seeds, spores, yeasts and an edible nutrient medium develop through natural processes into a fully edible garden with mushrooms and cress within a few days. “People can use this method to grow and harvest their own food, which saves on transport, for example. You can use the 3D printer for something completely different than crazy shapes, cookies and chocolates. We have to learn to look at our food differently,” says Chloé. “The world’s population is growing rapidly; by 2050 there will be 10 billion people on earth. We need to take good care of our raw materials and think about why we do what we do.”
‘What if we transformed insects to suit our tastes, as we have done with mammals?’
Another example is insects. Chloé: “About ten thousand years ago, man started domesticating animals for their flesh, skins, warmth and companionship. We bred the aurochs into walking milk factories and wild boars into pigs for pork. People want to eat meat, but it’s not sustainable: meat provides little protein in relation to the CO2 emissions produced and the amount of land needed for livestock farming. So we know that this way of producing our proteins is not sustainable. But the western world is still not keen on eating insects, which can be bred and grown sustainably. What if we transformed insects to suit our tastes, as we have done with mammals? What if we were to design a new generation of insects: better tasting, nice and tender and without those pesky little wings that get stuck between your teeth? And would we really want to do that, breed those kinds of farmed insects?”
It’s an uncomfortable subject that Chloé approaches in a way that chafes. She did so a few years ago when she looked at the subject of cultivated meat. “Cultivated meat could be an alternative to meat from the farmer. But why should we then still remain dependent on animals and use animal stem cells? How far are carnivores actually prepared to go to continue eating meat?” Chloé designed a personal bio-reactor with which people can grow meat on their own body using their own stem cells. It became a kind of amulet, In Vitro Me (2013). “I wanted to use it to question cultured meat and make people think.” The reactions were fierce. “People didn’t consider it an industrial design but cannibalism. It was too close to the bone. From my perspective, it was just an extreme scenario to stimulate people.”
Why don’t we view undigested food as food waste?
Why don’t we view undigested food as food waste? Can we design new generations of crops by combining genetic information in one seed and experimenting with growth recipes? Would we actually eat insects in the future if we started to develop farmed insects? And how do we feel about this ethically? Chloé, author of the book Food Futures, would like to investigate these and other questions together with the CWF participants.
Participants in the Food Experience during CWF2019 can be found here.
Meet Chloé any day at CWF2019!