The way we are eating today is contributing to the fact that we might not be able to eat in 30 years. So how can we feed the growing global population while reducing the environmental harm as the unstable climate makes food production increasingly challenging?
One of the answers could be microbial food – nutritious biomass consisting of dead algae, yeasts, fungi, or bacteria. It can be grown in tanks independently from the climate and in radically larger outputs than traditional food products.
The issue, of course, is that we, humans, do not want to eat microbes. Yet.
That is why I designed a speculative, fictional kitchen appliance called “The Microbe Apparatus”. Its purpose is to inspire a conversation, to create “wiggle-space” around the concept of what is and is not food, and to facilitate conceiving of a shared vision for the future we want rather than the one that is about to happen.
The object allows us to imagine how it would be to cook and eat microbes. It takes an abstract and foreign future problem and placing it in the material form in front of the viewer makes it easier to relate to.
“The Microbe Apparatus” consists of such elements: a small water tank, two microbial powder carousels, a flexible gut where the user kneads and extrudes the microbial dough, an extrusion hole drawer, an oven, and a small plate for a modest but nutritious meal.
It is through purchasing products that we shape the reality as consumer-citizens. Therefore, this project is a fictional product, a toy that we can play with and imagine the future we desire with.