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Ikea's research lab envisions a future where we live off insect meatballs

Space10

The UN predicted in 2009 that the world’s food production would need to increase by 70 percent by 2050 to meet global demand. Going off that statistic, Ikea's research lab, Space10, decided to investigate what the future of food might look like. They published their findings earlier this week, and to make them more accessible, the lab presented them in the form of meatballs, of course. In Space10 and Ikea's mind, meatballs are a universal language. "We used the meatball’s shape and size as a canvas for future foods scenarios because we wanted to visualize complicated research in a simple, fun, and familiar way," Space10 wrote in a blog post. "There’s hardly any culture that does not cook meatballs — from the Swedish meatball, to Italian/American spaghetti meatballs to spiced up Middle Eastern kofta."

Meatballs are a universal language

Future meatballs, however, won’t be made of real beef or pork, at least according to Space10’s findings. Instead, among the team’s eight future meatballs is an artificial one, or one made of meat grown inside a laboratory. These artificially created meats will be essential in the future, Space10 wrote. The first lab grown beef burger in 2013 cost $325,000. That same burger now costs closer to $10. "Artificial meat is a viable near-future alternative to the increasingly unsustainable practice of cattle farming," Space10 said.

While that idea might not seem too strange, Space10 also said powdered food will also eventually take over, especially in developing countries. The researchers also listed their "Crispy Bug Ball" — comprised primarily of insects — as a legitimate future food. "Insects generally contain more protein and are lower in fat than traditional meats and have about 20 times higher food conversion efficiency — making it a viable addition to our current menu," they wrote.