As you read these very words, the world's top minds are cloistered away in their laboratories, busy concocting healthy new foodstuffs like real-life Willy Wonkas (who care more for nourishing the planet and less about psychologically torturing British children).
But if the following delectables are the best that food science can whip up, we can expect our great-great-grandchildren to subsist on a steady diet of irradiated dirt smoothies and rusty Terminator widgets ... by choice.
#4. Stem-Cell Hamburgers
As an alternative to resource-gobbling cows, researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands have developed a lab-grown hamburger woven out of 20,000 bovine muscle fibers. But don't expect to slap two of these horror patties together for a "Big Cylon" anytime soon -- the R&D for this one burger was $332,000.
"The seasoning from my unwashed hands is on the house."
But what would $300K worth of genetic manipulation mean for your next cookout? Whereas most burgers are defined by descriptors such as "marbling" and "this used to be alive," critics have deemed this replicant chuck's taste palatable (if they close their eyes) and said that it resembled a real slider "from a distance." It's never a good sign when you're grading a meal by the number of feet you are away from it (aka "the durian scale").
We give it three months before the Maastricht team fesses up that they spent 95 percent of their funding on Sea-Doos and the remaining 5 percent on a hobo's lymph nodes.
#3. Fruit Designed to Taste Like Candy
As you may have noticed, the world's juvenile insulin supply is slowly losing a cold war against the dark alliance of Toucan Sam and Franken Berry. To turn the tide, fruit breeders have entered the fray with a bold new weapon to win over children's hearts and minds and pancreases: the cotton-candy-flavored grape.
Finally, someone doing something about the bitter unsweet taste grapes are known for.
Indeed, generations of crossbreeding have resulted in a grape that tastes like carny chow. ("We're competing against candy bars and cookies," admitted the fruit's head breeder, as he presumably loaded a salvo of these berries into a catapult aimed at a phalanx of Keebler Elves.)
It's turning into a diabetic Game of Thrones, and sadly, fruit are the Starks.
The sugar content in these grapes is higher than normal, but you'd have to eat 100 of them to match the calories in a candy bar. Still, there's something kind of depressing about botanically engineering our fruit to accommodate our species' utter lack of self-control.
#2. Entire Meals in Ball Form
Futurists who assume that the next generation will consume all their meals in pill form obviously underestimate humanity's fascination with genitals. Take WikiPearls, an experimental ice cream for everyone who ever complained that their dessert didn't look enough like a single orphaned testicle.
Phase One Photography
"No, saltier and wrinklier."
Ensconced in a layer of edible skin, the WikiPearl allows diners to consume sloppy, liquid meals with a minimum of utensils and packaging. So yeah, they're basically Gushers, but filled with goulash.
Phase One Photography
We're pretty sure this "skin" is how Soylent Green becomes reality.
And just to guarantee that this idea will be appetizing to no venture capitalists whatsoever, the Harvard professor behind these edible spheres suggests that WikiPearl enthusiasts will someday be able to enjoy an "orange soda with a french fry skin." Dude, the only way you'd be worse off is by suggesting "five-alarm chili in marzipan cubicle" or "super-drippy hummus in a banana taffy force field."
#1. 3D-Printed Crap for Old Folks
Remember in Back to the Future Part II where Marty's mother puts a tiny pill into a microwave-like appliance and then pulls out a finished chicken? Turns out we'll have that soon! Only it'll suck!
"Enjoy" should probably be in quotes.
Indeed, these machines will be less Star Trek-style matter materializer and more run-of-the-mill 3D printer. At this point, it's probably worth mentioning that its ingredient cartridges will be filled with animal by-products, algae, and ground-up insects -- basically, everything it prints will be barely perishable pureed versions of real food, catered to your dietary needs.
Apparently, "hamster" is the next step in man's evolution.
3D-printing enthusiasts are currently experimenting with these devices to potentially feed astronauts on deep-space missions and future old people (i.e., you!), so know that escaping the planet won't help you avoid golden years with a mouth full of grasshopper paste.