The case for why children should play with food.

We have heard it a million times: the way we behave with eating food is shaped during the earliest years of our lives.

But what does that really mean? Does it suggest that exposing a toddler to broccoli will make him a less fussy eater? Does it mean taking our kids on Sundays to visit orchards will make them more conscientious of food systems? Does it imply that if we honor the time spent around the dining table our children will be more willing to preserve the social role of meals?

Yes, that is all true. And as far as I can tell, we should all be doing more of that.

But there is something else that have all heard a million times: “Do not play with your food.”

As we were skimming through academic papers on the subject of infant…


There is a dichotomous debate in today’s vision for the future of food. On one side there are advocates for organically-grown plants and free-range animal meats, while on the other side there are proponents of industrial-processed and biotech-engineered foods. In the debate, eaters are perplexed to decide what to eat as ‘real’ food.

Many companies today advocate in their marketing for their ‘real’, ‘natural’, and ‘whole’ foods, which to the uninformed would suggest then that all other foods are fake, artificial, and processed.

Approximately Food is an initiative with the mission to challenge the notion of ‘real’ food. For what…


What can we learn from China’s megacities and behaviors today, to imagine food places and experiences of tomorrow?

Neon lights flickering, steam coming out of every corner and some old man stirring an undefinable soup in a pot on the street. Someone screaming and running around, while a man sits down to order some sino-japanese mixed bowl of food, waiting for something to happen next.

Our imaginaries and fictions have always drawn inspiration from the busy streets of Chinese and East Asians cities of the past, in which food and street food, in particular, was often depicted as a way to ground these often dystopian and non-human places, but also to show a sort of ‘otherness’ compared to…


China is a country of intriguing contrasts. On the one hand, it has one of the world’s oldest cuisines. On the other hand, it is keenly embracing trends and innovating its food culture. And, thanks to some of the world’s fastest rates of urbanization, digitization and wealth creation, China is now a heady mix of past and future, formal and informal, tradition and innovation.

On the face of it, the fast-changing food culture of China’s megacities appears to be particular to those metropolises, if not unique. The scale and pace of change in those cities certainly seems unprecedented.

The government is keen to promote rural development in order to support the local economy and provide economic opportunities for those left behind.

However, we…


Despite the growing appetite for meat, the Chinese diet remains heavily vegetable-based — prompting innovative ways to meet the increasing demand for greens.

Between 1961 and 2013, China’s annual vegetable consumption quadrupled from 80 kg per capita to 348 kg. That’s three times as many greens as Americans eat (114 kg in 2013). To meet the demand for all those veggies, food systems need to scale up, increase productivity, and overcome supply chain challenges posed by megacities.

Despite the growing appetite for meat, the Chinese diet is heavily vegetable-based, with three times as many greens eaten in China than in the US.

Today, China largely consists of small parcel farms — 90 percent of its farms are smaller than 2.5 acres. This is partly due…


Not only are farmers using livestreams to showcase products to customers in the city, but the technology is also making the food system more trustworthy and transparent.

The lure of better opportunities and wages in cities has seen a mass migration from the Chinese countryside and rural populations plummet. As a result, the government is keen to promote and foster rural development in order to support China’s rural economy and provide economic opportunities for those left behind.

The popularity of short-form videos and livestreaming apps in particular has exploded in the past three years. Livestreaming is now not just a…


Social media isn’t just launching the careers of culinary celebrities. It’s leading to entirely new flavor combinations and recipes.

In China today, social media isn’t just about sharing content and influencers: it has also sparked food trends that have in turn materialized as new products. Video platform Douyin is at the heart of this craze: it allows ordinary people to create stunt-style videos using food, and in the process create campaigns for brands — sometimes intentionally, sometimes less so.

Predictably, perhaps, the platform has launched the careers of several celebrities. For example, Ms Yeah has won international media coverage for…


Apps and influencers determine what dishes are trendy, not traditional gatekeepers.

In many countries, diners hoping to hear about a hot new restaurant might turn to established food critics writing reviews in newspapers and magazines. Others might rely on high-end authorities such as the Michelin Guide. Diners in China, however, have skipped traditional critics and judges and turned instead to online influencers and user-generated content.

Diners in China hoping to hear about hot new restaurants don’t turn to food critics or guides, but to influencers and user-generated content.

Meituan-Dianping is one of China’s leading food-related internet platforms. It’s an app for discovering and rating food, but also a payment platform, a food-delivery platform and a network of influencers. …


Having friends or colleagues round for dinner is now a lifestyle trend for many young people.

Convenient dining options abound in Chinese cities today are one of the many perks of the dense urbanization and plethora of digital services like food delivery. Lining up to eat at the latest wanghongdian, slurping noodles in the street and getting one’s favorite meal delivered at home have all become the new normal for city dwellers in China. In fact, in 2017 the sum of money spent eating out in China exceeded Sweden’s entire economic output that year.

The amount China spends eating out is greater than the GDP of Sweden.

However, because of all the convenient…


The humanless retail experience is fast becoming an everyday reality in the food arena.

In early 2017, a Swedish startup named Wheelys launched an unmanned “convenience store on wheels” in Shanghai to demonstrate what humanless retail experiences could look like. Though it garnered plenty of global media coverage, in China the humanless retail experience is fast becoming an everyday reality — especially in the food space.

On the back of widespread use of mobile payments and growing government interest in investing in AI technologies, small and large tech companies alike have launched a plethora of variations on the humanless experience…

YEAST.

YEAST is a future of food laboratory. We explore the relationship between food, emerging technologies, and urban living.

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