Food is essential to all life. It plays an important role in shaping our social and cultural identity and impacting the world economy. But the reality is that our current methods of food production and consumption are taxing our planet’s resources and cannot be sustained indefinitely.
There are differing views as to what constitutes a 'sustainable' food system, and what falls within the scope of the term 'sustainability.' Achieving a sustainable system encompasses a whole range of issues that includes health, safety, affordability, food security and quality. Environmental sustainability of these systems is another determining factor that impacts—and is impacted by—climate change, biodiversity, water and soil quality.
“A generation of smart start-up technology companies is looking for ways to feed the 9 billion people that will walk on this planet by 2050.”
We strongly believe that our technology can provide an answer to a more sustainable food cycle. VPRO featured Foodpairing® in “Digital Food,” a documentary about the role of technology on sustainability. (See Foodpairing® Co-founders John Langenbick and Bernard Lahousse discuss how the science of flavor analysis can be used to create new ingredient pairings for bycatch seafood at 38:24.)
As a food tech company, Foodpairing® tackles these issues of sustainability on multiple levels. We work with chefs to realize the potential value of ingredients that may be key to developing our sustainable food systems in the future. Our food algorithms and innovative technology power applications that guide consumers towards health conscious choices.
In December of 2016, Foodpairing® was invited to join EIT Food’s Rising Food Stars, a partnership of 50 European start-up companies aligned with the same mission to utilize our innovative solutions to address the socio-economic challenges of the food industry. Together, we promote pan-European research projects, innovation and technology, while working to build agricultural and food industry networks.
The Rising Food Stars are a member of the FOOD CONNECTS Knowledge and Innovation Consortium (KIC), which encompasses 50 leading European companies, universities and scientific partners that span the entire food value chain. Over the next seven years, the partners will invest close to 1.2 billion euros to be matched by up to 400 million euros financed by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (IET FOOD). Click to read the press release and learn more about IET FOOD.
The Foodpairing Inspire tool connects chefs and foodies to new ingredients sourced from around the world and unlocks their potential flavor combinations. In addition to some of the more common ingredients you’ll find in our database, we aim to create awareness for sustainable ingredients such as bycatch seafood, meat alternatives and other items like algae or nut- and seed-based drinks that may become vital in the future.
Introducing seaweed to gastronomy
During a recent research expedition with Porto Muiños, a seaweed company based in Galicia, Spain, we analyzed six different species of algae which you can find in our Foodpairing® database. Porto Muiños has been instrumental to introducing these ‘sea vegetables’ to the world of gastronomy. Founder Antonio Muiños explains: the main reason why people don't eat seaweed is just because they don't think of it and dont know how to use it. What is needed is to teach people how to use seaweed and familiarize them with the product.
Creating new value for all edible North Sea fish
Foodpairing® has also pledged to promote North Sea bycatch pairings. In just the North Sea alone, tons of lesser known fish species are caught unintentionally every single day. These bycatch fish are then discarded and returned to the ocean in favor of the more popular species, but the vast majority die before ever making it back to sea.
A collective of Belgian chefs have joined together as the North Sea Chefs in their commitment to raise awareness and appreciation for local bycatch fish by featuring them on their restaurant menus. Together with the European Fishery Fund and the North Sea Chefs, we analyzed about 30 bycatch fish—from the small-spotted catshark to pout whiting—to determine their aroma/flavor profiles and ingredient matches, so that chefs can learn to incorporate them onto their menus.
“By changing our eating habits and incorporating these bycatch fish into our daily menus as consumers, we can become part of the solution to sustain our seas.”