Interview with Hendrik Haase on the future of our nutrition

»We have to eat differently to save the world.« – Hendrik Haase is convinced of this. the berliner food activist, who went up against cooking bull Tim Mälzer on Kitchen Impossible Season 7, aims to create a new understanding of the future on our plates. His vision: Enjoy your meal it must not be the privilege of a small elite, but must be accessible to the masses.

The digitization of our food culture

In his current book »Food Code. How do we stay in control of our food in the digital world” (2021), Hendrik Haase asks how digitalization is changing our food world, always looking for answers to the rapid ecological and technological change in our food worlds.

it’s about the sausage

Haase – also the »sausage bag« – is also committed to sustainable meat production and supports Food Start to meet the challenges of our time with revolutionary concepts, combining sustainability with innovation and food production with technology. His vocation is new. bridges build – from production to consumption, from field to plate. We asked the food activist how we created a pleasant future for all of us can create.

Falstaff: How do you know the future?

Henrik Haase: Diverse. Exciting. challenging.

Hardly any question divides society more than the supposedly harmless question: What do you eat? Our diet is more closely infused with our identity than ever before. You are what you eat. More than that, the question of diet has become a question of faith. Will our food become our new religion?

Nutrition has become an important part of our lifestyle and therefore an important element of the narrative about ourselves. With the steady decline in membership in traditional religious institutions, dealing with nutrition it can certainly take on religious traits. In an increasingly confused world, we seek guidance, distinction, or security. Food can provide that. However, some forms of nutrition already seem sectarian. However, I would not only view this development negatively, but as a sign of the growing importance of the topic in our lives.

»As a society, we have to grapple with the question of what role uncontrolled enjoyment can continue to play.«

Hippocrates advised us: “Let food be your medicine and medicine your food!” Should we think of our food as a remedy?

Bathroom scales, fitness bands and blood sugar sensors already communicate with health apps on smartphones. In the future, we will see a greater fusion of medicine and nutrition towards personalized precision nutrition. That doesn’t sound very tasty at first, but it will allow us to leave diets behind and consume more proactively. However, we as a society must address the question of what role uncontrolled enjoyment can still play.

With our modern eating habits, one-sided dieting with industrially processed foods, we are destroying our very livelihood: our microbiome. The result: lifestyle-related diseases such as allergies, obesity, and diabetes. How can we make our food edible again so that it doesn’t harm us but rather nourishes us?

I find it very difficult to give general health or nutritional recommendations. The microbiome in particular shows how “healthy” can be individually defined for each and every one of us. The investigation has progressed here, but it is far from over. There are many indications that certain additives disrupt the »communication« of microorganisms in the intestine and our body. Therefore, I avoid unnecessary flavors or thickeners as much as possible. There are already a number of startups combining analysis of the world of microorganisms in our stomachs with smart nutrition. We will experiment even more in this field in the future.

»The microbiome shows how individually ›healthy it is definable for each and every one of us.«

What do you think of laboratory food, like the famous €250,000 hamburger? Is this the future?

This burger already costs less than 50 euros today, the chicken burgers from the biofermenter are already under 20 euros. Startups in the cultured meat sector are endowed with millionaire venture capital and are already working on scaling, that is, the mass production of marketable products. The goal is to lower the price of meat from live animals. The first supermarkets conclude cooperation agreements. It is quite possible that we will soon see stainless steel fermentation towers in this country as well, from which minced meat can be “taken out”. I find this development very exciting and the interaction of biotechnology and digital technology fascinating. However, the industry must also deliver on the many promises in terms of sustainability, tolerability and taste, not to mention EU-wide regulation of this “new food”.

In his current book »Food Code«, he addresses the question of how we can stay in control of our food in the digital world. How is digitization changing our food culture?

Serious. From field to plate. Faster than we think, and everything is already underway. There are real opportunities for a more diverse, transparent and accessible food world, thanks to ever smarter algorithms, sensors and networks. At the same time, I see the danger of further monopolization, loss of control and new dependencies. For my co-author and I, these are reasons why we must immediately and deeply engage with this digital transformation of our food system.

»Sustainable food for all will only be possible thanks to this precision that saves labour, fertilizers and crop protection. I have hope.”

What are the opportunities of the digital revolution? How will we grow our food in the future and how will we buy it? Can our smartphone really bridge the gap between home plate and field?

It already does that if we want and we have the appropriate app installed. Direct marketing, adoption of entire fields, fruit trees or plots is now possible digitally. Farmers and customers using this direct marketing 4.0 are already benefiting greatly from the new digital possibilities. A lot is happening on farms, too: tractors drive semi-autonomously, controlled by sensors and satellites. In China, around 100,000 agricultural drones are flying, helping smallholder farmers’ collectives to spread seeds and protect crops. You fly with your smartphone out of your pocket. Sustainable food for all will only be possible thanks to this precision that saves labour, fertilizers and crop protection. I have hope. To do this, however, we must give our idea of ​​agriculture an “update” and create the appropriate infrastructure.

How has Corona changed our food culture?

The crisis was a catalyst for the digital transformation of our food world. Delivery services, recipe databases, the smart home kitchen, but also harvest aid platforms in agriculture, the need to use automated processes and robotics, everything has gone into overdrive. Many readers may have noticed it at one time or another. I hope that this warning effect continues, that we remain vigilant and do not allow these events to take place in secret again.

»Livestock farming is part of an agriculture that must function sustainably in the cycle.«

You’re also called the “sausage bag” because you wrote a book about the new meat culture (“Crafted Meat: The New Meat Culture: Recipes, Crafts and Enjoyment”) and even opened your own butcher shop (“Kumpel & Keule”) . . But is meat consumption still acceptable in view of the increasing scarcity of resources as a result of the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine?

68 percent of the world’s agricultural land is grassland, which cannot be easily plowed because it is not suitable for agriculture. Worse yet, its agitation would destroy a large stock of CO2. These areas can only be used sustainably by ruminants, which transform what we cannot digest (grass) into valuable food (milk, meat). In agriculture and the food industry, by-products continue to be produced that can only be used by animals. One liter of oat milk generates three times the amount of organic waste used as animal feed. Animal husbandry is therefore part of an agriculture that must function sustainably in the cycle.

However, these arguments should not be read as a continuation of existing relationships. Animal husbandry has grown too large globally and needs to find its way back to a healthy level.

My book »Crafted Meat«, as well as the butcher shop I co-founded, represent draft alternative models, drafts for a world where meat is possible with “less but better”.

Can we save the world by eating differently?

The food sector is responsible for about 37 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Even if we change all areas of our living environment “to green”, it will not be enough. So we have to eat differently to save the world. There is no other way.

»For me, real enjoyment is the result of mindfulness and devotion to our livelihood.«

How can we create a pleasant future for all of us?

First of all, when we are more careful about what we put on or pour three times a day. Many will notice that it is no longer just about having enough. The many dimensions our diet touches today are challenging but just as exciting. Admittedly, keeping these within planetary boundaries and on a human scale, while preserving our democratic values ​​of freedom, is a challenge. With all these dimensions, enjoyment is not neglected either. For me, however, real enjoyment is the result of mindfulness and devotion to our livelihood. Only when I feel a certain balance here can I happily move on to the next pleasure.

About Hendrik Haase

Hendrik Hasse (*1984) is Publicist, networker, moderator, food blogger and more passionate connoisseurs. the studied communication designer he advises decision-makers in politics and business and regularly lectures at universities and congresses, where he inspires his audience to seek new paths towards an acceptable future.

He founded the organization »Slow Food Youth Berlin«, which campaigns against food waste and for sustainable, fair and clean food. Next to the one who was the youngest master butcher in Germany Joerg Foerstera founded the glass butcher shop »Kumpel & Keule« in Berlin. In his book “Crafted Meat: The New Meat Culture: Recipes, Craftsmanship and Enjoyment” (2015), the passionate advocate of tail meat propagates the new responsible butchering movement. In the current book of him »Food Code. How we stay in control of our feed in the digital world” (2021) he puts alongside the business journalist Olaf Deininger the opportunities of the digital revolution for our food culture.

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