As the population of the world increases, the need for revolutionary and technically advanced methods to produce food will become essential. A food crisis predicted in 2050 and the investigations into life in space means farming will have to adapt to more extreme environments. Livin Studio and Utrecht University collaborated to address these issues. They have produced a novel idea for edible fungal biomass fed on plastic waste.
Agar shapes called “FUs” inspired by mushrooms and provide a large surface area, are filled with plastic and the fungi are placed within. Feeding on the plastic waste and nutrient enriched agar shell, the fungus soon outgrows its confinement. At this point the “FUs” can be harvested and eaten.
The plastic is UV treated before being placed in the FU to sterilise and encourage the degradation, this helps the fungi utilise it as a food source. The fungus itself is nurtured in a nursery, producing roots before being transplanted into the mutarium. These steps enable the edible biomass to grow in two weeks.
The use of fungi is key to this process. It is capable of breaking down waste material without becoming toxic. The fungus uses this waste and toxic material as a food source to produce edible fungal biomass.
This prototype offers an interesting alternative to food production and waste management. This process could also be relevant to the continued investigations into an extra-terrestrial future, as fungal matter has been proven to adapt and grow in Mars-like conditions.