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Utopian lab: Our future on a plate

Our future on a plate explored the current perceptions and predictions of our food production. Can we tap into the collective imagination of today’s people to distinguish possible food utopia and dreaded food dystopia? Each plate tells a story, representing the current public opinion over what makes up a food plate that is healthy for us, healthy for the planet, and what the future may hold. 

Exploring a ‘meat and two veg’ of the future, Our future on a plate showcased the possibility of cultured meat, algae and liquid nutrients as substitute food sources in an everyday diet. The aim was to spark an open discussion about current food production and what the future might hold for our food system. How thirsty is an avocado plant? What are the most wasteful food processes? Could liquid or pill-form food deliver all our nutritional – and emotional – needs? And how do you grow meat in the lab?

Through workshops run by Future Farm Lab, Joe Sarah's stark photography and collaborative research with non-profit New Harvest, King's College London, Imperial College London and a collection of independent farms and retailers, Our future on a plate collected data, processed and contextualised it, injecting transparency into the food chain and deconstructing how our choices impact the environment, our health and society.

Project lead

Abi Aspen Glencross is a PhD student studying cellular agriculture in the Department of Tissue Engineering & Biphotonics at King’s College. Her specific research focuses on creating thick muscle tissue to produce a steak. Cellular agriculture is an academic discipline that focuses on the farming of agricultural products from cells rather than plants or animals. Abi’s research is funded by the US charity New Harvest which supports cellular agricultural projects around the world. Her thesis advisors are Lucy Di-Silvio’s of King’s College, UK and Mark Post of Maastricht University, NL.  

Utopian lab

Utopian Lab our future on a plate 2This project was part of the Utopian lab, a contemporary glimpse of the Health Faculties at King’s College London. The crusade to understand, save and compliment the human body and mind was the spirit of Utopia itself, uniting cultures, defining humanity and standing on the shoulders of giants.

Rotating through the different stories of present day work day work being carried out across the Health Faculties at King’s College London, Utopian lab was a snapshot of the future with roots firmly planted in King’s College Hospital’s past: a workhouse on the Strand that was propelled to notoriety by the surgery work of Joseph Lister in the late 19th century. 

‘I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results’ – Florence Nightingale




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