Order the summer edition here

Food from thin air. Almost.

FOOD PRODUCTION / The newly explored "air food" contains neither soy, hormones, pesticides, herbicides nor genetically modified organisms. And the manufacturing process, which is carbon negative, can reduce traditional food production – which currently causes a third of the world's CO2 emissions.

(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)

Perhaps you've heard of it – perhaps you even saw it barely mentioned in the previous MODERN TIMES (Anders Dunker on Monbiot and topsoil)? There is one Finnish company in particular that has reached the media in recent years with its "food from thin air" project. But where does this food come from, yes, besides from air? The idea is not that new at all; this has been on NASA's plate since the 1960s, but has only recently been further developed into a finished product.

It takes an incredible 15 liters for 000 kg of beef – Air Protein only uses 1 liters of water to produce 0,8 kg of proteins.

In the 60s discovered NASA at Kiverdi started in 2008 with further development of NASA's ideas, and in 2019 they founded Protein Water, which is also the name of the product. Kiverdi and Air Protein were founded by Dr. Lisa Dyson and Dr. John Reed.

And Finnish Solar Foods calls its protein product Solein. Five Finnish researchers started up in 2017 after research had been carried out by the state-owned research center VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT). And there are several companies out there, such as NovoNutrients and Orbital Farm.

Carbon negative process

The process can be done on both a small and large scale and is carbon negative as long as it is based on renewable energy. Here, there is no need for large areas to be cultivated, animals to be fed, washed and looked after – all with high CO2-impression. Only a small production room is needed – which is fed, among other things, with CO2, taken from the air. It can be done at the North Pole, in the Sahara or on a deserted island – or in a spaceship.

Food production today is among the worst in terms of land use, water consumption and not least CO2-emissions and is considered to make up a third of the world's CO2- emissions. 80 percent of this again comes from meat production. And it is precisely here that air food has its biggest advantage – less CO2, for CO2 is the main ingredient, and with renewable energy for production, the entire process is carbon negative. Also when it comes to land use, it has a huge advantage. For one kilogram of Solein protein, 1 square meter is needed, compared to plants' approx. 20 and beef approx. 200 square meters. Dyson also emphasizes that their air protein has several other health benefits compared to animal meat. The substance does not contain soy, hormones, pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified organisms. It is more protein-rich per kilogram than any meat and rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Minerals such as phosphorus, sulphur, calcium, iron and potassium are added to water so that it ferments, not unlike how you brew beer, for example. You then dry out the water and end up with a powder which, among other things, consists of 65 per cent protein, 5 per cent fatty acids and 15 per cent digestible fibers and some minerals. The end product is mustard yellow and flour-like – and neutral in taste. This must be able to be added to already existing products, whether it is pancakes, pasta or sauce. While Solar Foods manufactures protein powder, Air Protein makes its own finished chicken-like product – Air Meat. It is claimed that both Air Protein and Solein can be made in just a few days.

The potential is great, but at the same time there are many regulations. Currently, only Singapore has allowed the sale of such protein, from Finnish Solar Foods. It happened recently, in September this year.

Increase in food production?

According to the UN and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), we need to increase food production up to 2050 by up to 60 per cent.

A third of food production is wasted.

But they also say: "We must work in ways to feed the world with less." Eating out of thin air fits well in such a thought, but it is not the only solution, and it is important to keep all possibilities open. Food waste is still something we should be aware of, especially in the industrialized countries, where the waste is greatest. Globally, we produce more than enough food for everyone, somewhere between 10 and 12 billion people. But a third of food production is wasted. Europe and the USA are the worst, with respectively 95 and 115 kg of annual waste per consumer. In sub-Saharan Africa and South/South-East Asia, wastage is much lower, with 6 to 11 kg per consumer per year.

Air Protein makes its own finished chicken-like product – Air Meat.

If we manage to reduce wastage by just 25 per cent, that in itself could be enough to feed 500 million people and reduce the need for growth in food production.

In the big picture, it is also necessary to include water and water consumption. Groundwater is a non-renewable resource (only 6 percent is renewable), and we as humans have taken a facile view of water as something that is "just there". While it takes approximately 1350 liters of water for 1 kg of wheat and 3000 liters for 1 kg of rice, it takes an incredible 15 liters for 000 kg of beef. Air Protein uses only 1 liters of water to produce 0,8 kilogram of protein – and is in a class of its own. Alongside the enormous water consumption, agriculture and animal husbandry also contribute to contaminating the groundwater, thus a complete vicious circle.

Future food such as laboratory meat and insects

Can we then conclude that air protein is a winner? Both yes and no. This is not the only new "food of the future". Laboratory-produced meat is another relatively new solution, but perhaps unfortunately has a "yak" problem that makes it inedible, but with time and not least food shortages, that can quickly turn around. Singapore is also the only country to allow lab-grown meat, with Eat Just's cultured 'chicken'. "No animal was killed during this process" may become the slogan, but many people still frown at the fact that it is laboratory meat. Based on DNA, i.e. a kind of live-dead meat production. Almost like a cow or chicken plant.

Although both lab meat and air proteins are becoming competitive in price, they must be approved for sale. And while these products may soon be competitive in price for the wealthy North, it will probably be a long time before they become so in the global South. It is therefore important to have a broad view of the food of the future and adapt it to the conditions. Indoor, hydroponic vertical cultivation with LED lights will certainly also become more relevant unless electricity prices skyrocket. It will be able to produce nutritious and short-traveled food. By way of comparison, 1 square meter of land use here corresponds to 125 square meters in ordinary agriculture.

Elsewhere on the globe, insects will possibly become more popular. While some develop lasers to take the rat out of cockroaches, others run cockroach farms because of the cockroach's nutritional content. It is mostly used for animal feed, but is actually also considered a delicacy for humans. While it might slip under the label as "proteins from insects", the cockroach declaration will probably also have a high "yak factor".

A couple of centuries ago, blue-green algae – especially chlorella and spirulina – had the same hype as air proteins have today. They have an enormously high nutritional content and are easy to grow. They are usually grown in shallow ponds and require little else than sun, heat and labour. They are not as water efficient as air proteins, and although the price is decreasing, it is still too high for many. Here, too, new techniques are being developed to reduce production costs.

Financing

Air proteins will certainly find their place on our dinner table. Both Air Protein and Solar Foods have received millions in funding, the latter including from the European Space Agency (ESA). While Air Protein has managed to raise 32 million dollars, the Finns have raised a total of 42 million dollars, so the possibility is that we will see these products for sale, also here in Norway.

- self-advertisement -

Recent Comments:

Siste artikler

Iconic paintings and photographs

Role models: In public Latin America, independence heroes Bolívar and San Martin or Che Guevara and Evita are either idolized or satanized through paintings and photographs. This book takes a closer look at why.

Permanent state of emergency

ESSAY: The power goes out, exchange rates fluctuate, bread prices explode, fuel disappears. There are also still traces of the explosion. Yet Beirut's hard-pressed citizens time and again manage to find a foothold in chaos. And the chaos is contributing to Beirut never becoming a clean-up city.

Muslim elites, exercise of power and terror

AFRICA: What can a book say about Boko Haram or the porous border between today's Cameroon and today's Chad? Or about the pre-colonial kingdom of Kanem-Bornu?

The limits of our way of life

FUTURE: Environmental disasters, global warming, crisis of civilization and planetary apocalypse have given rise to ideas about the doom of the earth and the end of time. Through a radical anthropology, a couple of authors make an attempt to restore our faith in the world.

Agamben: A burning house

PHILOSOPHY: Italian Giorgio Agamben describes and envisions different courses for our thinking than today's more technologically nihilistic will-driven production paradigm. Two books delve into other possibilities than the 'fire' he believes we find ourselves in. In this essay, Astrid Nordang tries to bring out some of this complicated material.

A good life without more and more of everything

GREEN GROWTH: MODERN TIMES has chosen to print an extract from the book Grønt manifesto by our regular critic. "Quality of life rather than forced growth": Three small but powerful words, which provide a key to changing the direction of social development, where our eternal pursuit of 'the most possible' is rather adjusted to the appreciation of 'adequate'.

End Times Thoughts

PHILOSOPHY: While postmodernism involved an explosion, today's posthumous condition, according to Marina Garcés, involves a liquidation of all possibilities – an implosion. Yes, are the hopes we cling to today just market-adapted needs for hope?

Camille, Hannah, Lisa, Pauline and Flora

WOMEN: Art done by men is simply given more attention: in collections, in exhibition programs, in art literature, in the art market. But what about the large number of female artists over the past 500 years?

I was completely out of the world

Essay: The author Hanne Ramsdal tells here what it means to be put out of action – and come back again. A concussion leads, among other things, to the brain not being able to dampen impressions and emotions.

Silently disciplining research

PRIORITIES: Many who question the legitimacy of the US wars seem to be pressured by research and media institutions. An example here is the Institute for Peace Research (PRIO), which has had researchers who have historically been critical of any war of aggression – who have hardly belonged to the close friends of nuclear weapons.

Is Spain a terrorist state?

SPAIN: The country receives sharp international criticism for the police and the Civil Guard's extensive use of torture, which is never prosecuted. Regime rebels are imprisoned for trifles. European accusations and objections are ignored.

Is there any reason to rejoice over the coronary vaccine?

COVID-19: There is no real skepticism from the public sector about the coronary vaccine – vaccination is recommended, and the people are positive about the vaccine. But is the embrace of the vaccine based on an informed decision or a blind hope for a normal everyday life?

The military commanders wanted to annihilate the Soviet Union and China, but Kennedy stood in the way

Military: We focus on American Strategic Military Thinking (SAC) from 1950 to the present. Will the economic war be supplemented by a biological war?

homesickness

Bjørnboe: In this essay, Jens Bjørneboe's eldest daughter reflects on a lesser – known psychological side of her father.

Arrested and put on smooth cell for Y block

Y-Block: Five protesters were led away yesterday, including Ellen de Vibe, former director of the Oslo Planning and Building Agency. At the same time, the Y interior ended up in containers.

A forgiven, refined and anointed basket boy

Pliers: The financial industry takes control of the Norwegian public.

Michael Moore's new film: Critical to alternative energy

EnvironmentFor many, green energy solutions are just a new way to make money, says director Jeff Gibbs.

The pandemic will create a new world order

Mike Davis: According to activist and historian Mike Davis, wild reservoirs, like bats, contain up to 400 types of coronavirus that are just waiting to spread to other animals and humans.

The shaman and the Norwegian engineer

cohesion: The expectation of a paradise free of modern progress became the opposite, but most of all, Newtopia is about two very different men who support and help each other when life is at its most brutal.

Skinless exposure

Anorexia: shameless uses Lene Marie Fossen's own tortured body as a canvas for grief, pain and longing in her series of self portraits – relevant both in the documentary self Portrait and in the exhibition Gatekeeper.