The Future of Food

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Technology has opened up whole new worlds for humanity. It has drastically changed the way we live our everyday lives. However, when it comes to the way we buy our food, this process has more or less remained the same. But for how long?

One design firm wants to change all of that. To keep up with the pace of technological advancements, the Carlo Ratti Associati firm has created the supermarket of the future. As a part of a six-month exhibition at Expo Milano Carlo Ratti has created a project called the Future Food District. It explores how technology, innovation and creativity relates to food and diet.

 

The project explores how digital technology can change the way we interact with food and with each other. It is a part of the Expo Milano 2015 Conference called “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. In partnership with Italian supermarket chain, COOP Italia, the Future Food District investigates how data could change the way that we eat. It educates consumers about the origins and characteristics of their food and promotes better informed shopping habits. 

“Every product has a precise story to tell,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of Carlo Ratti Associati. “Today, this information reaches the consumer in a fragmented way. But in the near future, we will be able to discover everything there is to know about the apple we are looking at: the tree it grew on, the CO2 it produced, the chemical treatments it received, and its journey to the supermarket shelf.”

This installation is a real supermarket. Guests can interact with and even buy products. It features 1,500 products displayed on large interactive tables and underneath digital mirrors that showcase information about the origins, ingredients and manufacturing of the foods. 

It’s almost like stepping right into the future. The warehouse projects colorful data onto the walls and mirrors. “It will be like seamless augmented reality, without Google Glasses or any other cumbersome interface, where people can meet and exchange products and ideas,” said Andrea Galanti, project leader at Carlo Ratti Associati. “In a way, it is like a return to the old marketplace, where producers and consumers of food saw each other and had actual interactions”.

There are also exhibition rooms that further explore the consumer’s relationship to the supply chain and a “Classroom of the Future” which offers a space for students to interact and learn.

This innovation comes at a time when consumers are starting to become more eco-conscious. They are more aware of the things they buy and where they are sourced. With the recent surge of people who are interested in shopping locally, shoppers now seek quality, organic produce that travels as little distance as possible.

This project examines how technology can modernize the food shopping experience by focusing on the way that people make choices. Having the information clearly displayed right next to the product can influence their buying choices and dramatically impact what people consume. This has the potential to promote healthier lifestyles and increase the sales of local, organic and sustainable products.

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