Patrick Wu

A Sustainable Dinner of the Future

Innovative ideas are permeating the Alberta zeitgeist. You can see it in action at the recent INVENTURE$ conference in Calgary, which brought investors, entrepreneurs, and service providers together to create solutions for the world’s most pressing problems.

Innovative ideas aren’t just restricted to tech, though. Thanks to Genome Alberta, Corteva Agriscience, and the ASTech Foundation, I got to check out TasteTECH. This event showcased a number of startup companies that are changing the way we think about farming.

Here’s a glimpse into some of the delicious meals that we can make with locally-sourced food innovations.

First Course: An Aquaponic Salad (Powered by Fish Poop)

Some people remarked that I may have put too much bacon in this salad, but I don’t understand what that phrase means.

Deepwater Farms is a Calgary-based farm that grows aquaponic greens by raising them alongside sea bass. What’s brilliant is that the farmed sea bass fertilize the plants, producing a closed-loop system that saves water and energy.

A salad bar featured these greens alongside tasty fixings such as tomatoes, cucumbers, bacon bits, and a miso dressing. They were surprisingly fresh, crunchy, and delicious. It was as though they were just freshly picked from the farm.

I will definitely keep an eye out for these guys at local farmer’s markets. My only regret is that I never asked what type of greens these were…

Second Course: Free-Range Cricket Pasta with Mushrooms

I’ll be honest: the idea of eating bugs freaks me out a bit, but when they’re ground into flour and made into pasta, suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad. Entomo Farms is an Ontario-based company that produces high-protein cricket flour and other cricket-based food products.

Stay with me here. Crickets are incredibly cheap to farm and you can raise an abundance of them very quickly. Insects are a great source of protein and raising them uses a significantly smaller environmental footprint compared to their four-legged livestock counterparts. Entomo ensures their crickets are raised humanely (i.e. not in closed buckets) and only kill them at the end of their life cycles.

It feels good to know that you’re getting a good source of protein while feeling like you’re indulging in carbs. The pasta was softer than expected, but I wasn’t sure if it was because of the properties of cricket flour or if it was simply overcooked. There’s nothing crickety at all about the flavour, though.

I’m all for a new source of protein in my diet and will definitely consider integrating some cricket flour in my baking. Still not sure if I’m ready to try whole crickets yet, though.

Third Course: Grass-Fed Beef Tacos Fried in Enhanced Canola Oil

Who doesn’t love a good taco? It’s even tastier when you’re using high-quality beef and frying it in a heart-healthy oil. Gemstone Grass-Fed Beef provided the protein. They’re a local ranch that raises cattle without added hormones or antibiotics. The taco shells were fried in Corteva’s Nexera canola oil, a strain specially bred for its stability and high levels of omega-9 fatty acids.

How do they taste? Well, they’re tacos. Tacos are delicious. I don’t know enough about nutrition to say much about the health benefits of Nexera canola, but I suppose it’s not important because I ended up taking two more, anyway.

Dessert: Donuts and Agar and Sweets (Oh My!)

TasteTECH was hosted at SAIT’s Tastemarket, a restaurant/classroom hybrid for SAIT’s Culinary Entrepreneurship students. A collection of carefully crafted desserts from these students rounded off dinner, drawing inspiration from different dishes from around the world. I am a particular fan of the Galaxy Donuts (perhaps the most photogenic pastries I’ve seen in a long time) and the Raindrop Cakes (an elegant and subtly light dessert made from water, agar, and fruit.)

Bonus: Local Grownup Refreshments and Side Dishes

Not pictured: the confused face of the bartender as I was wiping wet spots off the counter for this photo.

Running alongside TasteTECH, the TasteOLOGY showcase featured local breweries, distilleries, and meaderies. Being a sucker for a good gin, I’m now keeping my eye on Burwood Distillery in Calgary. They showcased a simple, no-frills gin-and-soda highball with a touch of blueberry jam, but also had samples of honey and berry-infused gins.

Unfortunately, I missed out on some steamed bao dumplings made with fish from AquaBounty Technologies Inc. This Massachusetts-based startup engineered salmon to grow to maturity faster using fewer resources than traditional farmed salmon. These engineered salmon can reach full maturity in as little as 18 months. Other attendees said they were incredibly good.

I’m really excited to see what creative new things we can do with sustainable, environmentally-friendly food in the future. The future is looking pretty tasty, for sure!

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2 thoughts on “A Sustainable Dinner of the Future

  1. Great post Patrick!!! This stuff is the way of the future. Lots of cool & tasty ideas. Did the agar cake taste like it smells in the lab???

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