Did you know you don’t always have to cook with food?

As part of our new CultureFutures project we’ve been digging deep into the imaginations of artists, chefs, designers and material makers as they help build a better world – in all its delicious glory. From precious plastics to seeds with stories, in this week’s Future 5 we’re cooking up a soup of social good.

Willy Wonka would be proud of these joyful creations that play with the manipulation of expectation…


⚡1. Nature’s recipe book

Plastics and composites you can cook

First up on the menu: take a handful of mussel shells, a cup of old coffee and a dash of green tea, and what have you got? Believe it or not, you can create planet-friendly plastics, alternative ceramics and fermented fabric. In the culinary world of Materiom, the circular design experts share recipes for materials that are useful, local and simple.

“We are taking inspiration from the natural world, and using it to empower collective ingenuity and creativity, with the hope that in turn, that collective intelligence can work together to nourish the planet we all call home.”

Get cooking ► Enter Liz and Alysia’s kitchen


⚡ 2.  Top chefs sow the seeds of change

Each seed has a story (All Row 7 photos: Johnny Autry)

Co-founded by top chef Dan Barber, Row 7 Seed Company is developing seeds that could combine flavour and local ecology to change our food system.

“I recognise the power of the chef in today’s world. Traditions and cultural connections should be front and centre – chefs need to curate that part as well.”

The 7082 Cucumber

Behold! ► The power of the cucumber!



⚡ 3.  How a food activist revitalised Bolivia

You say potato, I say patatas fritas!

“Gastronomical culture and food heritage is very important. We have a responsibility to acknowledge Bolivian products and work with them to give them the respect that each product deserves and needs.”

Claus Meyer, the co-founder of two-Michelin-star restaurant Noma, is behind Manq’a. He believes that if you’re proud of your products and country – and try to make that pride contagious – you can improve working and living conditions for producers and opportunities for hundreds of young people.

Learn more ► Manq’a translates as ‘food’ in Aymara


⚡ 4. Making food, not war in Lebanon

Souk El Tayeb’s network has mushroomed

An experimental organic farmers’ market set up by a culinary activist is breaking down religious and cultural barriers in the Middle East. The end goal? To make food, not war. Souk el Tayeb’s story begins in 2004 at Beirut’s original open-air market

“Lebanon is a country where sectarian tensions can cause divisions within society and occasionally still simmer into conflict. But these training schemes have successfully dispelled tensions and allowed groups to mix with one another – overcoming cultural, social and religious barriers by allowing them to see that they have more in common than they think.”

Learn more ► We’ll eat to that


⚡ 5. DIY plastic recycling workshops

Precious Plastic

With Precious Plastic, Dutch designer Dave Hakkens is on a mission to let people in every corner of the world know they can start their own little plastic recycling kitchen. Using basic tools and materials, he has developed a series of DIY machines so everyone can cook with plastic waste.

“We develop machines to recycle plastic and share the blueprints open source for free so that everyone in the world can download and build them. Creativity can show others examples or an alternative – paving the way for the masses.”

AtlasAction ► Create new valuable things out of plastic


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