Food SubstitutesTechnology-Impact Assessment, Sustainability and Future Orientation through Discourse with Young People

Eggs from algae, burgers made from insects and sausages from lupin seeds: new and increasingly unconventional foodstuffs are appearing on the market. They are indicative of a strong interest for new products, technologies and approaches, as well as reflecting consumer’s demands for healthy and responsible diets (ethical, sustainable and socially mindful). The way food is produced will be shaped by new technologies in conjunction with new biotechnological developments. In light of this background, food substitutes are growing to be ever more important – be they plant based or animal based.

In this project consortium, the IZT is studying the ethical, legal and social dimensions and implications. The KWI’s role in the sub-project will be to accompany young people while they try out unconventional foodstuffs, continually assessing the ways in which they engage with these new groceries.

Following Andreas Reckwitz, creative consumption can be understood as a means to express a ‘desired self or self-image’. According to this idea, the way one eats and the lifestyle attached to that choice has the potential for young people to distinguish themselves. The KWI’s qualitative study attempts to answer several different questions in this regard:

  • How do new ways of eating match with young peoples’ ethical views?
  • In what way can new and unconventional products be integrated into established diets?
  • Which creative potentials are unleashed by novel foodstuffs?
  • How healthy and sustainable are these new foods?

Over the timeframe of one week, a range of different substitutes will be supplied to young people of diverse dietary backgrounds. Test subjects will integrate the substitutes into their everyday eating habits and keep a video-diary capturing their experiences. Towards the end of the trial, subjects are asked to invite friends and family in order to try out different foodstuffs, the preparation and eating of which will be monitored. Finally, participants will take part in a guided interview in order to create a detailed analysis of their individual background. The project is aimed at producing an academic publication, a publication aimed at the general public, as well as a video with short interviews of the test subjects, with the intention of spreading them through the different platforms of the KWI.
In addition, the project intends to guide young people toward a reflected and matter-of-factly debate on these topics.