Most people can hardly imagine the need to go to half a dozen shops to purchase their weekly groceries. They might do it, mind you, but they’re not forced to head to the butchers, the fruit and veg shop, and the grocery store. You can buy just about anything at the supermarket.
But it wasn’t always that way. And perhaps it’s not always going to be this way.
People are being forced back into the kitchen. Societal guilt tells us that we should be cooking for ourselves and more, that we should enjoy it. But, besides a generalised lack of cooking skills (which Jaime Oliver seems to be singlehandedly attempting to rectify), households throw a ridiculous amount of food away. This wastage means that it’s often cheaper to go out for meals – if you’re looking for healthy, well prepared food that is.
And now, people want fresh food at home.
Why it’s important
For home cooking to be economical and nutritious, a few serious changes are needed. For a start, produce needs to be clean and chemical free. Food storage requires more than your basic fridge to maintain the quality of food longer. And, most importantly, people need to be motivated to eat their inventory before it goes off.
Fortunately, all of these needs are being addressed – though not necessarily as a complete picture. Fresh food afficiandos still need to triple up on their technology.
There are pesticide cleansers that operate through water electrolysis, such as the ECO Washing Balls [LINK: http://www.yankodesign.com/2013/07/25/no-more-pesticide-food/]. These make it easier to remove harmful substances from our produce, automatically making them safer and more desirable for longer.
And remember those unwieldy home vacuum sealing machines you could order from home shopping networks? They’ve been replaced with beautiful, reusable containers that do all the work as soon as you close the lid. The VacuVita [LINK: http://www.vacuvita.com/] that is leading this trend is moving out of the crowdfunding stage [LINK: http://fluxtrends.co.za/crowd-funding-developing-business-social-impact-projects-and-even-students/] and into production this year.
So far, so good, right? New gadgets are in development that will allow people to scan their groceries as they’re unpacked. By punching in a “best by” date, you’ll automatically get an update if your produce is going off. And, if you invest in the Electrolux Kitchen Hub organiser [LINK: http://electroluxdesignlab.com/en/submission/kitchen-hub-smart-eating/ + https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1Nq9txkO4c] when it hits the market, you’ll even get the benefit of the gadget recommending recipes that use the food expiring first.
But, if you’re serious about fresh food, you’ll need to make room for another appliance in the kitchen. Because, of course, you’ll need to have your own hydroponic indoor garden like Hyundai’s Nano Garden [LINK: http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/kitchen-nano-garden-hydroponic-hyundai.html]. Or, when it’s rolled out of the crowdfunding stage, you may just want the Niwa [LINK: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/435284672/niwa-the-worlds-first-smartphone-controlled-growin], which is more or less controlled through a cell phone app similar to Smartphone connected ovens [LINK: http://fluxtrends.co.za/meet-brad-the-grumpy-toaster-are-we-witnessing-the-rise-of-the-machines/]. Both of these appliances are a beauty to behold – if you like your garden in shiny, futuristic metal – but growing your veggies in your home (pesticide free) all year round does offer you incredibly fresh food.
So, it’s happened – fresh fruits and vegetables have embraced the Internet of Things, right in our kitchen.
What’s the butterfly effect?
The possibilities for the fresh food craving are endless. One can only hope that people stop throwing away their expensive groceries. But, the question is what these gadgets could do if they were mass produced and commonplace. Would it be the grocery stores or the fruit and veg shops that go out of business? And what does that mean for the vulnerable farmers of the world?
If nothing else, this trend is set to question our relationship with food – and the planet at large – while people pacify their desire to have an app for everything. Perhaps, one day, it will be normal to tend the garden through our phone at work, but someone will still need to walk the dog… until…
Appliance manufacturers and design competitions are pushing this trend forward. However, it truly springs from the societal guilt placed upon wastage – and a desire to bring the kitchen up to speed with the Internet of Things.
The Global Hotspots
Many of these ideas are still in the crowdfunding stages and Asia may be driving the overall development, but designers and funders are found everywhere.
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