Absolutely Famished – An Exploration of Future Food

Absolutely Famished is a programme of exhibitions and events which invites artists, scientists and food experts to imagine what we might find in a 22nd century marketplace. Not satisfied with simply presenting papers or a discussion on these issues the programme moves in the direction of a futuristic experience of future food.

The programme pushes the limits of edibility, considers issues such as food sustainability and security in a world with a changed climate and increased population, and explores the role of technology and culture in future food trends.

What might this mean? Some of the possibilities include: robot farmers, lab synthesised and 3D printed food, post-apocalyptic dining, and the future of agri-culture…

On July 20th, we participated in Gastronomica Apocalyptica, an entire menu based on what our future food may be like In the 22nd century marketplace. The menu included:

  • Wallaby three ways
  • Dashi jelly with seaweed and algae
  • Jellyfish, seaweed and ant salad
  • Crispy fried crickets and mealworms
  • Root vegetable pudding


Here is an introduction to the 22nd century marketplace written by Renee Beale for the launch of Absolutely Famished. Visit the programme website for more information and upcoming events.

The 100 storey marketplace casts its shadow over everything in the city. The lifeline of the community, it provides the only supply of food for many thousands of kilometres. It has been so since the climate wars of 2050. With a quarter of the earth’s land mass underwater or under threat of being under water, mass migration of an ever-growing human population has seen every available speck of land built on.

Incredible aromas, some familiar and some new, permeate from the 10 storeys of retail that sell the wares produced in the floors above. But this enticing mix of aromas is not emanating from the food itself, merely from aroma-prints emitted by the millions of advertising machines tempting the hungry citizens. This place is hell for those deemed obese and on mandated food rationing.

Robot assistants bleat sale items and daily special offers, programmed to particular auditory pitches in an attempt to be discernible to the inferior human ear over the cacophony.

Catalogues stretch endlessly into space, projecting vividly coloured virtual 3D representations of available food items for customers to peruse. The newer model catalogues allow the interaction of all senses – including sound and touch. Less real food is damaged and wasted that way, although any food that does get discarded is composted back into the growing systems above.

Once an order is placed, the upper floors spring to life. 3D printers take care of most of the popular junk food. Livestock farming proved too energy intensive and difficult in increasingly confined spaces sometime back in the late 21st century, so now flesh is grown for consumption by petri-dish. Fruit and vegetables remain a problem, with only certain genetically modified species able to grow indoors with relatively unsophisticated insect biodiversity. Robot insect drone technology is improving, although recent advancements in laboratory synthesised mock vegetables and fruit, with all of the flavour and nutrients of the grown variety, have led many to speculate that they are the most promising solution.

Welcome to the 22nd century marketplace. I wonder what’s cooking today?

Photo credit: “Anna Madeleine”. Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from the Carlton Connect Initiative.



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