I'm dreaming of a 2050 Christmas
Image credit: David Young @NB illustration
Christmas dinner may look and taste a little different in 35 years.
Christmas in 2050 may be a little less decadent than the festival we know today. One of the biggest steps in the western world will be the ‘quantified self’, or self-tracking with technology. A whole new post-industrial wave of customisation will have occurred before 2050, which will make us extremely aware of what we consume, the air we breathe and the amount we sleep.
There will be particular focus on how we function after a particular meal. This may mean planning ahead, such as calculating the precise amount of mineral or compound needed in our meals for an exact amount of activity, like jogging or reading a novel.
A breathalyser or FitBit-type tracking device could measure what we need, whether we’ve had too much, or whether we’re lacking in something. This self-quantification will counsel us on what we require, and most will follow that.
Perhaps we will choose to have an individual ‘Christmassy’ meal in that group dining setting, or have a precise amount of food on the plate. Tailored nutrition could be as easy as programming the 3D printer-type oven to correspond with our trackers, making a bite-size slab of chemical compounds, or a delicious hot dish that looks home-made.
Apart from the quantified self, we will have to be efficient with space. The population is expected to increase by three billion by 2050, so we are going to need up to 50 per cent more food. This amounts to needing an area the size of Brazil to help sustain our increase in demand.
Vertical and micro farming, or eliminating the need for farm animals - they currently feed on about 80 per cent of food grown on cropland - could help. Continuous climate change means that droughts will become more frequent, making it increasingly difficult to pasture animals without great expense and difficulty.
It is also likely that people will gradually turn to a vegetarian lifestyle for health reasons, with many considering animals as sentient beings. ‘Meat’ from soy, lupins, algae, wheat and suchlike will be the cheapest, healthiest and most ecologically-friendly option.
Dr Kurt Schmidinger from Future Foods says that industrial farming will break down in the 2030s due to outbreaks of pandemics that will most likely originate in chicken farms - as medicine loses the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
To combat this, lots of new types of ‘meat’ will be created by using in-vitro methods. Mainly eaten in the western world, cultured meat will contain more vitamins, less cholesterol, less saturated fat and more Omega-3.
In rural areas, or where people have less income, some families may become part of collective organisations, where they will group up with their neighbours and buy, rear and slaughter their own animal, each taking a piece for Christmas. This may be the same for fruit and vegetables, grown in a small allotment or patch of land.
What might the Christmas of the future look like?
Future Christmas fridge
Your smart refrigerator will correspond with your interactive FitBit-type device and stock the fridge with certain things, lock the fridge if you need to diet, and remind you that you need to exercise or cut down to access the delicious treats inside.
Your AI assistant will be chopping vegetables, stirring and doing all the mundane tasks that take away so much of Christmas time for chefs of the family.
Future Christmas oven
Your oven will have 3D printing capabilities, printing specific nutritional slabs, or a ‘homemade’ meal for each of your guests. For dessert, it could print a sweet treat that looks identical to your Christmas tree.
Future Christmas wearables
Guests will have an interactive wearable on their wrist, monitoring blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, number of calories consumed, activity and sleep.
Future Christmas meat
Cloned, cultured, clean or in-vitro meat will be more commonplace. This means that specially-selected stem cells will be taken from ‘farmed’ and wild animals via a harmless biopsy, and then grown in huge bioreactors to produce vast quantities of ‘meats’. No animals would be killed in this process and it will cost about the same as meat available now. Chris Davis, founder of Impossible Foods, says that as the meat doesn’t start off as an animal, there’s no intrinsic reason why it can’t be any shape you desire. Start-ups like Supermeat are already working on making meat ‘clean’.
Future Christmas booze
It’s not uncommon to enjoy a glass of something to get in the Christmas spirit. Unfortunately, 2050’s Christmas will mostly be a sober one. Alcohol will be incredibly expensive as legislations around it make it impossible for many people to purchase.
Future Christmas vegetables
Who knows what kind of wacky things we could do with our vegetables in the future? We will however most likely be growing more at home. Futurologist Dr Morgaine Gaye thinks we will have hydroponics in our houses so we can grow plants ourselves, becoming less dependent on mass producers and maximising space for our own kind of micro-farming. Hybridised seeds will also be available, enabling people to grow fruit and vegetables in many varying conditions.
Future Christmas Christmas tree
Your artificial tree may be made from crops such as maize. We will have run out of – or arguably quit – fossil fuels, so plastics will have to come from other sources.
Future Christmas chocolate
Milk replacements are already around in the present time, so it’ll be a given that dairy will be swapped entirely with plant and nut substitute in the future. Almond milk chocolate, anyone?
Future Christmas presents
Gifts will probably still be a tradition among many 2050 families, and may arrive in style. The progress in machines becoming autonomous these days means that your presents could be delivered by a pilotless drone, timed precisely for the greatest surprise, without you needing to twizzle it around with your joystick.