At the rate we’re going there will be billions more hungry mouths putting a strain on the planet’s resources. However, eating bugs might be a solution. SPACE10, IKEA’s external innovation lab, has begun experimenting with putting mealworms and other bugs into their meatballs and burgers. More accurately, it’s taking beef out and replacing it with a concoction of mealworms and root vegetables.
IKEA’s meatballs have always been one of the main reasons customers flock to their stores; these bug burgers are now part of what SPACE10 has dubbed the “fast food of the future.” In other words, they’re healthy, sustainable and delicious, and a gourmet glimpse of our insect-packed future. The Scandinavian furniture giant has had decent success with vegetarian options in the past; so bugs in burgers seems to make sense. Here are a few of the bug food options that the lab has been working on:
The Neatball comes in two types: a mealworm version and root vegetables. It is served together with mashed potatoes, gravy and lingonberry sauce.
The Dogless Hotdog comprises dried and glazed baby carrots, beet and berry ketchup, mustard plus turmeric cream, roasted onions and herb salad. What gives the Dogless Hotdog its eye-catching looks is the bun itself. That’s made with spirulina ; a micro-algae that contains more beta carotene than carrots, more chlorophyll than wheatgrass, and 50 times more iron than spinach.
The LOKAL Salad is made up of vegetables grown in an indoor hydroponic farming system without soil. IKEA has developed three different combinations of micro-greens, sprouts and herbs: red veined sorrel, broccoli and tarragon; pink stem radish, pea sprouts and thyme; borage, red frill mustard and lemon balm. Each combination will be topped with a homemade dressing.
Microgreen Ice Cream
Finally for dessert, the Microgreen Ice Cream is made up of herbs planted in IKEA’s underground garden. You can choose between fennel, coriander, basil, and mint, or select a combination of the greens. The base of the ice cream is made using 60 grams of sugar, with additional sweetness coming from the micro-greens.
These aren’t SPACE10’s first foods containing bugs, though. Two years ago, they introduced Tomorrow’s Meatball, a visual reimagining of what we’ll be eating years from now. The lab has been trying to develop sustainable alternatives to feed the world as our population continues to grow and climate change reduces traditional crop yields. And as any vegetarian will probably tell you, producing beef takes up a lot of land and energy; and those cows’ methane emissions account for 39 percent of the earth’s greenhouse gas. To that end, its chefs have been working on ways to use local produce, lab-grown meat, algae, nuts, and, yeah, bugs.
So, while these creations are not available at IKEA yet, the Swedish brand gives us a taste of what could be offered in years to come.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.