Space10, owned by Ikea, describes itself as "a future-living lab on a mission to design a better and more sustainable way of living." Part of their mission? To create the fast food of the future.
Caveat: You may or may not want to know what the future holds for your belly. Do you prefer the familiar to the novel when it comes to food? Do you scream when you see a spider in the tub? Do you forgo broccoli for another helping of Kraft mac and cheese? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Space10's approach to food may not whet your appetite, exactly. Let's just say it may be an acquired taste — one that humans will be forced to acquire in the not-so-far-off future if we keep gobbling up our planet's resources at the rate we are now.
Space10's Local Food lab, located in Copenhagen, Denmark, is passionate about concocting creative, sustainable ways to produce, grow and distribute good-for-you food in the heart of cities around the globe. Their food mission attempts to answer three intriguing what-if questions: "What if we could produce tasty, nutritious food and make it affordable for everyone? What if we could grow food locally, having a positive impact on people and the planet? And what if we could inspire the next generation about the importance of sustainable food in more playful ways?"
Yeah! What if? This all sounds pretty great, right? Space10's Local Food dream is real — and smart as heck for our poor over-farmed, overworked, resource-drained planet — but putting theory into workable practice may take some doing. This world is full of adventurers, but far less full of adventurous eaters.
So check out these five dishes whipped up by Space10's Local Food lab test kitchen. Then let us know if your tummy is screaming yay — or hell nay. Keep in mind these are the folks who introduced the world to tomorrow's meatball three years ago. That was a redo of Ikea's beloved meatball created with, uh, "alternative ingredients," such as algae (OK), insects (oh, dear) and "lab-grown meat" (say what now??).
Back to the latest menu from Space10. Take solace in the fact that Space10's Local Food lab believes that dishes "shouldn't just be healthy or sustainable. They must be delicious, too."
Coney Island it ain't. This green dog is made of dried and glazed baby carrots, beet and berry ketchup, mustard and turmeric cream, cucumber salad, roasted onions and an herb salad mix. And that's just the dog. The bun is made with spirulina, a microalgae with "more beta carotene than carrots, more chlorophyll than wheatgrass, and 50 times more iron than spinach." Basically, it's that green smoothie your really annoying CrossFit friend swears by, except the smoothie is wrapped around a hot dog that isn't a hot dog. Legit, though: The United Nations has recognized spirulina as "the most ideal food for mankind." Can't argue with that even if your belly is arguing with your brain just reading this. Also, this dogless dog has more protein than a traditional hot dog. Welp. That's... important.
The culinary apocalypse is nigh. Space10's Local Food lab took one of their "tomorrow's meatballs" (it also goes by the enticing moniker "crispy bug ball") and figured out how to mash that sucker into a hamburger patty containing 100 grams of beetroot, 50 grams of parsnip, 50 grams of potatoes and a hearty 50 grams of mealworms? — ?"the larval form of a darkling beetle."
Oh, the larval form of a darkling beetle! Why didn't you just say so in the first place? That's so much better than mealworms! It's just something that elven wizards eat in Dungeons & Dragons!
Space10 argues that this sexy insect burger is better for you than the nasty, vile stuff you don't know about in your regular burgers or chicken nuggets. We're not about to deny those claims, but this writer would still be more likely to eat an arsenic-laced Whopper than consume 50 grams of the larval form of darkling beetles.
Oh, you want to know what else you get with your bug burger? No sweat. A nice, normal white-flour bun (to help with the illusion of normalcy) and some yummy bug-less relish, beetroot and black currant ketchup, chive-y spread and hydroponic salad. Hold my beer. I'm diving in now. Totally kidding! Don't get me wrong. Love the sustainability! Adore the creativity! Still not putting darkling beetle eggs in my mouth, beetroot and black currant ketchup be damned.
Where were we? Ah, yes, the adorably named Neatball, designed "to get people thinking about reducing their meat consumption, using local produce and trying alternative proteins." Again, cool concept, bro. There are two versions of the Neatball, and I am pretty sure you can guess which one I'd snag off the menu: the mealworm Neatball and the root veggie Neatball, made with carrots, parsnips and beets.
Ayup. The creators suggest serving Neatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce for that nostalgic, deflated Ikea "why did I just buy a sofa I cannot pronounce" feeling. But presumably, you could top these puppies with Grandma's ragù. As long as Grandma is long dead and buried and doesn't have to know you're serving her special sauce on puréed darkling beetles. Mamma mia.
I can hear your sigh of relief. Oh. Wait. That was my sigh of relief. Salad! Who doesn't like salad? Or rather, who doesn't like salad now after reading about crispy bug balls? Local Food grows tons of microgreens with hydroponics — that's growing crops without soil. The greens grow in water full of nutrients and the process allows for sustainable gardens almost anywhere. Good stuff. This we could totally work with.
Local Food offers a Lokal salad bar with three combos of microgreens, herbs and sprouts. Combo 1: red-veined sorrel, broccoli, tarragon. Combo 2: pea sprouts, pink-stem radish, thyme. Combo 3: borage (nope, no clue), red-frill mustard, lemon balm (not the ChapStick version). Each combo is served up with homemade dressing made with basil, tarragon or the non-lip care-related lemon balm, and croutons are lovingly crafted from day-old bread.
And? Not one bug died for these salads. Winner, winner, darkling beetle dinner!
We're sure you're craving dessert by this point. Cheesecake? Churros? Silly. You're getting ice cream made with herbs and wee baby hydroponic greens. These ice cream flavors have a distinctively foodie touch: fennel, coriander, basil and mint. The ice cream base has only 60 grams of sugar, and sweetening comes from apples, apple juice and lemon juice. Alternatively, you can opt for a Spanish chervil or woodruff ice pop. Yeah, clearly we're sticking with mint ice cream too.
So, there you have it, foodie friends. You've looked into your gastronomic crystal ball and witnessed the future being made. Major props to Space10's Local Food lab test kitchen, where bravery knows no bounds. We're all aboard for sustainability and creativity... we're just having a little trouble digesting the concept of mealworm patties. Urf.
There are no immediate plans to add these items to Ikea's store menu anytime soon, but it is a possibility if the items become popular enough.
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