The Coolest New Tech In “Farm To Table” Innovation
In honor of this month’s theme of Farm to Table 2.0, we’ve rounded up some of the coolest new companies and innovations in the realm of local food, most of which we spotted at the recent Food Loves Tech conference in NYC. The technology you’ll find below is shaking up the traditional farm to table model, making its benefits more accessible, efficient, and downright futuristic.
New Jersey based Aerofarms is on a mission to combat the global food crisis and has some impressive technology in their arsenal. The company owns the largest indoor vertical farm in the world and employs a custom technique that allows them to use 40% less water than hydroponics. Even without the use of pesticides, Aerofarms’ vertically-oriented system is 75 times more efficient than traditional field farming. (Michelle Obama was certainly impressed!)
When boiling chickpeas, most people will pour out the slightly gelatinous water that’s left over. But that water– known as Aquafaba– is actually an excellent egg substitute that not only avoids the unnatural chemicals in commercial egg replacements but also cuts down on food waste. Aquafaba is making its way into vegan products, like Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise, a new mayo alternative. (Of course, you can also experiment with Aquafaba at home.)
Move over Farmville. Farmbot‘s robotic gardening allows you to farm from the comfort of your couch– but with real (not just virtual) results. With an interface similar to a video game, users can literally “drag and drop” plants they’d like grow, and the machine will respond in real time. The technology is entirely open-source and can be used in schools, for commercial farming, or even in your own backyard.
Seed Sheets is changing gardening from window boxes to garden beds. Made from a weed-inhibiting textile, these “roll out gardens” are pieces of fabric woven with all organic and non-GMO seeds (so you can safely eat anything you grow). The sheets are designed with companion planting in mind (in order to minimize pests). Ideal for the harried gardener who dreams of greener pastures.
With their readily-accessible meals, Farmers Fridge is reimagining what the table in “farm to table” might be. The Chicago-based company sells meals made with nutritious, locally-sourced, organic ingredients in vending machine-like kiosks that allow people to take their fresh foods wherever they might go. All the materials are eco-friendly and the leftovers are donated to food pantries at the end of the day.
By providing fresh juice on demand, JuiceBot avoids the ill-effects of prepackaging, keeping the cold-pressed juice protected from light and heat (which can lead to nutrient degradation– just think of how beer bottles are dark to protect from further fermentation). Similar to a vending machine, JuiceBot is instant-access. Customers place a paper cup at the dispenser, select the juices they’d like to blend, and voila! In addition to preserving the nutrients in fresh-pressed juice, the JuiceBot eliminates the need for plastic– cutting down the environmental toll of plastic production as well as preventing any untoward chemicals from leeching into the drinks. The fresh-pressed juice (which is made with local fruits and veggies) is replaced in the machine every 24 to 48 hours. New Yorkers can expect to see JuiceBots appearing this summer.
For overwhelmed parents or those whose movement is dictated by public transportation, UPicnic is here to lend a helping hand. The Uber-like app delivers everything you need for an idyllic picnic experience– everything from food to lawn games– right to your carefully-chosen spot in a park. At the end of the day, a messenger comes back to clean everything up, for a quintessential 21st-century, New York City experience.