The future might come with days where we won’t even need plants to have our food as technology can help us grow food ingredients using plant cells in a bioreactor, says a study led by researchers from Finland.
The team from Finland has created an appliance, called CellPod, made up of plant cells inside a bioreactor that allows one to grow the useful ingredients found in vegetables.
CellPod comes with the hope of not having to do farming at all. Rather, you just have to use a seed culture to grow plant cell material to produce beneficial substances like proteins and fibres. So, this would enable people to grow their own food in their own kitchen without resorting to agricultural methods. You don’t even need an entire plant to obtain food.
“Urbanisation and the environmental burden caused by agriculture are creating the need to develop new ways of producing food – CellPod is one of them. It may soon offer consumers a new and exciting way of producing local food in their own homes,” says research scientist Lauri Reuter, from the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT).
The VTT team explains that the plant matter to be consumed can be harvested once a week using this method. You can, thus, take the benefits of plants without actually having a full-grown plant.
“These cells contain the plant’s entire genetic potential, so they are capable of producing the same healthy compounds – such as antioxidants and vitamins – as the whole plant,” the team said. “The nutritional value of a cloudberry cell culture, for example, is similar to or even better than that of the berry itself.”
Until now, the team has grown Arctic bramble cells, cloudberry cells, and stone bramble cells.
Now, more important question: does this ‘food’ taste good? Humans are made such that we fulfill our need for food while also being able to appreciate it and find pleasure in the activity thanks to our taste buds. But, why does this easy-peasy, futuristic method that would, perhaps, solve a number of problems, seem like the experience of eating would be tasteless? The VTT team has, indeed, added that the cells they have grown are more or less tasteless.
“The taste still needs development: at the moment, it is very mild and neutral,” the team said.
CellPod is also not the substitute for entire meals. Rather, it can only cater for nutritionally boosting meals. And, the good thing is it can be custom-made as per one’s requirements.
“The development of tailored cell lines is also possible, in which case nutritional characteristics can be developed according to need,” the team said.
This work needs to be peer-reviewed before we can confirm whether the CellPod actually works.