Chemeca 2019 – Part 3. Opportunities with Food

Like last year, DETA sponsored the morning tea at Chemeca, which was a great opportunity to showcase our brand new brochure, which just happens to detail a variety of ways in which we can help out customers with their complex problems, and hopefully avoid the worst of the unintended consequences.

As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones at the conference looking at potential opportunities around food…

Professor Fariba Dehghani from the University of Sydney gave a mouth watering talk about some of the work they are doing relating to the enormous challenge of sustainably producing enough food to meet the future needs of a growing worldwide population.  It’s challenging enough to ask how we will provide enough food to properly feed 10 billion people in 2050, but to do so in ways that produce far less carbon emissions than we do now, and also use less water and land?  Now that’s a complex problem, which is going to require a whole range of different approaches and some serious engineering to solve.

Dehghani’s talk included some fascinating food facts that we’re looking forward to trotting out at a Summer BBQ some time.

Fact the first:  To make The Impossible Burger so delicious – allegedly, we’ve yet to have first-hand experience – the researchers at Impossible Foods add haemoglobin, which is produced by genetically modified yeast.  Apparently they worked out that it’s the haemoglobin in meat that gives it its distinctive taste.  Just a spoonful of haemoglobin helps the vegetables go down…

Fact the second:  Certain insects such as crickets and mealworms (the larval form of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor), are very resource efficient sources of protein, containing nearly 60 to 70% protein.  Yummo!  And as a bonus for those of you who already knew that, according to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge), mealworms can eat polystyrene!  Best of all, investigators found no difference between mealworms that were fed only polystyrene and mealworms that were fed normal mealworm food.  So potentially, they can eat our polystyrene, and then we can eat them!  The circle of life has never looked so delicious!

Sitting here in New Zealand, a land flowing with milk and honey – and beef and lamb – it can be hard to imagine insects as a realistic option that people would be willing to eat.  But according to Dehghani, insects are an essential part of the diet of more than 3,000 ethnic groups in 130 countries.  And already here in New Zealand you can order your own Teriyaki Mealworms delivered right to your door.  Or if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, perhaps you might be tempted by a chocolate coated zebra tarantula?

And on that note, it must be lunchtime.

Congratulations to the organisers on another fantastic Chemeca event.  See you next year in Brisbane at Chemeca 2020!