Science | Fiction

Could science fiction literature provide inspiration for innovative approaches in research on food and agricultural production?

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How can we ensure sufficient and healthy food for future generations? Are salt-tolerant plants, macroalgae, crickets and jellyfish alternatives to traditional food sources? And can we use urban spaces for food production? The food4future project develops innovations for these research questions to ensure healthy and adequate nutrition for everyone in the future.
But is our scientific vision broad enough to prepare for future scenarios?

Scientists of the research consortium will answer these questions together with the expert in German literature, Dr. Natalie Moser (University of Potsdam) in an experimental interdisciplinary collaboration and explore science fiction novels with students for concepts relating to nutrition and food production.

The literature seminar addresses the analysis of the described scenarios in relation to nutritional practices, food supply and production. How, when and where do characters in the novels eat? Which foods and drinks do they consume and which (new) food sources do they use in which form, e.g. as pills, pulp or infusion? In which environment – in community or alone – does the food intake take place? And what is the role of actions to ensure the characters are fed and cared for beyond the present?

The students analyse scenarios in novels such as “Miakro” (2019) by Georg Klein or “Sendbo-o-te” (2018) by Yoko Tawada, but also in movies or computer games, and their observations and results are discussed with the food4future scientists against the background of current technological developments and societal trends in relation to nutrition and food production.

Based on the interdisciplinary interaction on (fictitious) future scenarios and the perception of nutrition and food supply, approaches for new and disruptive research concepts for the agrifood sector could possibly emerge from the experiment.