We’ll probably eat lab-grown meat one day. It’ll be more ethical and environmentally friendly than the cow-grown stuff, plus it could be fairly cheap. But when we’re imagining The Future, why stop at growing mere meat when you can grow whole new organisms?
Living Food is a stomach-churningly ambitious concept by RCA design, biology, and robotics student Minsu Kim. It proposes the use of synthetic biology in fine dining, a world of haute cuisine in which modernist chefs would continue trending toward mad science to grow delicious, still-living organisms for you to eat.
“We design almost every element of food, such things as a taste, color, smell, texture, and ambience of dining,” Kim tells Co.Design. “As a designer, I propose an idea on what we could design further in the future.”
In Kim’s future, plates are breathing, pulsating, writhing things. Like alien species, her synthetic tasting menu looks dual parts shocking and organic, as if it’s been yanked from the bottom of the sea to be placed straight on a plate. Here, a vegetable could play with your fork while noodles literally tickle your tongue. And in this way, Kim imagines food as not a mere aesthetic or olfactory sensation but as a “fictional character” that generates an inherent empathy.
“I want to open up a discussion,” she explains. “Would you eat them? Why not? Do you think of it as a life-form? Or just a substance acting like life-form? What made you think so?”
It would also unleash the ultimate design challenge for chefs. Right now, they repurpose a finite set of Earth’s ingredients into delectable meals. But what if there were literally no end to the possibilities of what eating could be to any human sense? What if, like a beast in the Serengeti, you were filled with a blood lust to consume what was on your plate? What if, like a dramatic movie, a dish could leave its diners in tears, wrought with climactic catharsis over dessert?
Or what if the next diet fad is fueled by Cheeze-Its that open their eyes and say “Mama?” when you’re just about to bite?