Four Food Futures


Four potential food futures for the opening of The Future Starts Here at V&A.

For the opening of V&A exhibition The Future Starts Here, The Center for Genomic Gastronomy in collaboration with V&A and Rocket Food presented four miniature food experiences. 

On behalf of CGG, I did the creative direction of the project.

Image credits: Thomas Alexander Photography/V&A


Each installation presented a potential future food scenario, drawing on research, recipes and terminology that CGG has developed since their founding in 2010: Decadence During Decline, Smog Tasting, Cobalt 60 Cocktail and Doomer Dessert.

With a playful approach, they formed a sneak peek into the good, bad and unexpected directions that the future of food may take.

Smog Tasting

Meringue made with London air pollution harvested from three different locations: Vauxhall Bridge, V&A and Strand

Smog Tasting uses egg foams to harvest air pollution. Smog from different locations can be tasted, compared and mapped. The hyperlocal, seasonal smog in these meringues was hand harvested by expert chefs giving you a tasty snapshot of this unexpected ingredient. In the future will recipes include pollution counts so that we can adapt flavours to suit the changing Aeroir of our cities? 

A pollution patisserie or aeroir research bakery, where guests were invited to taste meringue made with air pollution harvested from three locations in London. In exchange for a smog tasting, people were asked to put a sticker where they’d like to make the next batch of smog meringues.

Decadence During Decline

Smoked carrot 'salmon' served with pickled mooli and carrot caviar

During times of crisis the world is turned on its head. In our transition to a decarbonised economy we will be forced to invent new social and environmental relationships. And recipes. Eating in the Anthropocene might mean being quick to adapt to collapsing fisheries, or even preemptively substituting plant-based ingredients that remind us of the old days. Enjoy the journey, because the destination is not predetermined. 

At the main reception of the private view, guests were served a traditional smoked salmon canapé. When they entered the Blavatnik Hall where the installations were housed, however, they encountered a fishmonger of the future, a 'carrotmonger' trying to recreate fish using plant-based ingredients. Both the version with salmon and carrot were identical in their appearance.

Doomer Dessert

Tinned food dessert: Caramelised milk jam rice pudding with bourbon vanilla soaked peaches and almond brittle, served on edible spoons.

There is a sense that a catastrophe is heading our way. Doomers and preppers the world over are stocking their cabinets with tinned food and hunkering down. It helps to be prepared, but how long can we obsess over the updates on our smart phones and just wait for the end of the world? Many people are trying to combat their culinary paranoia by saving seeds and growing a bit of their own food. In the future, will globalized industrial food look like a weird phase human cultures went through?

When do you think the world will end, and do you have enough sweet things stashed away? This installation presented a prepper’s larder, with tin food and water supply for 1 week.

Cobalt 60 Cocktail

Cocktail of common mutation bred ingredients: Barely whisky, red grapefruit and peppermint

Mutation breeding is the process of exposing plants and seeds to radiation or chemicals to induce random mutations. The mutated plants that show desirable attributes can then be reproduced, creating a mutant variety from the original stock. Mutagenic cultivars of barley, grapefruit, peppermint, rice and more have populated the human food system for 75 years. The hype and fear surrounding their introduction has mostly dissipated. In the future, which biotechnologies will we fight over and which will sit anonymously on supermarket shelves? Will we see open source GMOs or community CRISPR gardens? 

A scientist offered a tasting of the Cobalt 60 Cocktail to the audience, introducing concepts of radiation breeding and common supermarket mutants.