Algae, Blockchain and Communities: what you need to know about how tech is radically changing our relationship with food

25 October 2016

Speaking alongside many leading voices transforming the world of food, Nick and I took the Neighbourly message to London Food Tech Week.  If you ever doubted that how we shop, eat, make and throw away food could benefit from the application of ground-breaking new tech, this event had to be seen to be believed. 

What was abundantly clear is that technology has endless potential to disrupt the way we produce, harvest, consume and recycle humanity’s most precious resource. But this isn’t just a nice to have – to cope with the increase in the world’s, population we’re going to need to more than double global food production by 2050, we use a landmass the size of China every year to grow food that we throw away, and while obesity relate diseases accelerate hunger persists.

Let me give you some fascinating examples of the solutions we saw. 

Many readers will understand the huge environmental impact of many of today’s protein sources. Microalgae certainly doesn’t sound that appetising, but that’s before the intervention of food technologists like Algama. They’re on a mission to integrate high-protein algae such as Spirulina and Chlorella into the food system to ensure future food security for all.

Do we really know where our food comes from? Block chain - a ‘distributed database’ technology can provide the un-tamperable continuous record from source, making fraud or contamination almost impossible – something the team at Chainvine are working on with the most treasured of tastes - wine. That Pinot’s tasting better already…

Taking on the issue food waste, Gusto creates recipes and sends you the right amount of ingredients to cook with. It's a simple solution that replaces a weekly shop, but means much less food ends up in the bin at the store or in the home.


But what about all of us, the consumers? How can technology educate and inspire is to change our behaviour, value our food and unlock society with that most sociable and caring of acts: eating together and feeding others?  

This was Neighbourly’s message, and it was incredibly inspiring to tap into the audience’s clear desire for more ways to play their part. 

We spoke about how Neighbourly Food is connecting supermarket surplus food with food charities. More than just tackle waste, we talked about how Neighbourly can support food charities with funding and volunteers. And how we can help people get involved locally, setting up and gaining support to feed people who are homeless, hungry, or perhaps just lonely and who need the warmth of company of breaking bread together. 

Food Tech Week was a huge success in only its second year with over 7,000 attendees across the 5 days. And as is often the case when we attend such thought-provoking events, we left wishing more people could hear the stories on offer.  

People like you, and I know we, should be more responsible about what we eat and how we buy, but we’re often unsure about what to believe and how to make a difference. Technology gives us a step in the right direction to tackle these pressing problems and bring us together through food.