Science Fiction Today – Food

FFood has gone from something that we had to seek out, to something we cultivated, and now is becoming something we create. Continually questions get raised about where the food we eat actually comes from and whether we really recognize all the chemicals that we are adding to our food. There has even been discussion of being able to use 3D printers for food.

Food supply can often be either a main issue or a side issue in science fiction stories because food is a vital part of keeping a society alive. Some of the problems I can see is usually in the examples of the future either there is a food crisis or we have switched to entirely created food and “all natural” is a luxury.

Food Crisis

The food crisis scenarios are ones where the food sources that we have are either drying up or just not enough to support the growing population. This can be seen in movies such as Interstellar or books like The Wind Up Girl. In both of these situations an infection of our food source begins to destroy crops and the world cannot find a way to fix the problem.

An infection of the world’s food source is not the only potential problem that could happen – there is also the fact that the world population keeps growing beyond the real limits of what the food source can actually hold, but we keep finding a way to supplement it. In many of these situations it is just about finding a way to get people some kind of nutrition, but often it is not enough.

Created Food

When I talk about created food I am thinking of things such as the replicator in Star Trek or the scene in Fifth Element where they put in a small pill in a machine and out comes a whole chicken. This is a situation where there is no food crisis because we have figured out a way to generate food. The big problem I can see with this is that there would still be pockets of natural food, but it is either by people farming for themselves (like Picard’s family) or a luxury paid for by the rich.

There are a lot of people, even in today’s society, who talk about not wanting to put unnatural things into their body. I don’t know how people would react to food that just creates itself! There is a distrust of things that are viewed as artificial and I cannot imagine that generated food would not be completely artificial. But it does also contribute to the option of the population just continuing to grow.

There are trade-offs to being able to create a never-ending food supply and being able to just have the population keep growing. At the same time down the road will we discover that some of our choices about what we put into our food have actually created other complications?

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!


17 responses to “Science Fiction Today – Food

  1. I just let my kids watch The Fifth Element for the first time last week and the food replicator made no impression on them at all! I remember being shocked by things like that as a kid. But of course they are growing up in a world where they have a 3D printer in their own home, something I wouldn’t have considered at their age. The speed of change, and the availability of “fake” snack foods might be conditioning future generations to think of food evolution as a normal step. Sad!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to admit, I don’t think of it as odd at all. But then, I’ve been watching Star Trek since I was born. I would be concerned about the healthiness of whatever created food I might be eating, but I can’t honestly say the IDEA blips my radar as a concern rather than a convenience for me and savior for underfed areas.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That is so true. We have so many easy fast snacks. It makes me realize how important it is to help my child understand where food comes from. I at least recognize when I am eating a completely synthetic food source.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m one of those people that is wary of food that is artificially preserved or created, mainly because the tech hasn’t been around long enough to see the effects it might have on our biology. DDT was supposed to be awesome, and then it wasn’t.

    One thing I do think is really cool is a new wave of space-saving farms, that build up, rather than across. The water these farms use is far less, because whatever one plant doesn’t use trickles down to the next tier. It’s more environmentally friendly, and produces a larger yield!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Moving towards space efficiency in farming is going to be hugely important in the future. I do think we need to consider what we put into our bodies but also if we cannot generate more food then starvation is going to be an issue. It is a naturally culling of the world population, but that would be hard to just accept as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. NotAPunkRocker

    We could end up the Soylent Green way too…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wasn’t there a similar food creating thingy for pizza in Back to the Future 2?… 😀

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Soylent Green is a classic. That popped into my mind as well NotAPunkRockker 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Robots don’t need food. That would change the resources discussion and not necessarily for the better, since the things robots DO need are not so easy to just grow in the dirt…


  7. Pingback: Science Fiction Today – Food (Again) | Comparative Geeks

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