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Lettuce Entertain You

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We are in the mood for pink herbs and green motors.


This is salad, grown the old-fashioned way.


You know, in shipping containers, under LED lights, without soil,


in an optimised water and nutrient mix.


As Farmer Spock called it, good old hydroponics.


In all seriousness, it's been suggested that the type of intense


farming going on here at Local Roots in Los Angeles could help


solve the world's food problems in years to come.


Transport costs can be reduced by growing plants


wherever they are needed, even in areas of famine where


You get higher volumes and many more crop cycles during the year, too.


Lettuce can be grown in 30 days instead of up to 90


outdoors, and a new crop can be grown immediately.


All in all, one of these containers yields the same as five acres


It's very similar to the strawberry farm that we saw in Paris


in the spring and in Miyagi in Japan in 2015, where the land had been


But this project has much bigger ambitions and this one is also


using artificial intelligence to make some quite unusual tweaks.


But before we talk about the vegetables of the future,


we are off to San Francisco where Kat Hawkins has been looking


I've come to this lab in the heart of Silicon Valley


They claim to have invented the food of the future -


a completely meatless meat made entirely of plants.


It's actually remarkably important to get that state of mind


perspective but actually it's also useful for interpreting


The aim is to reverse engineer the flavour and texture of meat


And as someone who very much enjoys their meat tasting like meat,


I wanted to find out how they're doing it.


What is it about the flavour of meat that makes it so damn delicious?


Why is it so agreeable, what is it that triggers your mind


There is a lot that goes into that and it turns out that flavour


is about 75 or 80% aroma and about 20 or 25% taste.


Impossible Foods found that the key ingredient that gives


meat its characteristic irony taste is heme, a molecule found


in most living things and especially in animal muscle.


So this is your magic ingredient, right?


And it provides the explosion of flavour you get that makes


the difference between white meat chicken with a beefburger.


The company has recently flipped the switch on its meatless


meat-packing factory as it ramps up production.


They will eventually make 4 million burgers a month,


and the next aim is to move into chicken, pork and lamb.


But it's one thing being a scientist who's enthralled by food tech


and another to be a chef, using the ingredients produced


I think we eat way too much meat in general.


So I think this is a way to be as close as possible to how


The Impossible burger is now the only one Rocco has on his menu


It seems like at this stage it might be a novelty for Silicon Valley


diners with money to spend but of course, as always,


It tastes like mushrooms, but I know there's no mushrooms in there.


But it doesn't taste quite like meat to me.


Yes, it's a little bit leaner, as a meat.


But it looks like it - it's got that kind of umami flavour


It tasted good as I was eating it but afterwards it left a slightly


strange taste in my mouth - very strong, very irony.


Still, it's healthier than meat, and has zero cholesterol


What comes across talking to Rocco, though, is how important


it is for his customers that the flavour is close to meat


But what if you could serve actual animal flesh without a single


That is what several companies, including this small tech start-up


in the heart of Silicon Valley, are working on.


They plan to grow actual fish from stem cells.


It might sound like an unnerving prospect


Fish consumption is demanding, fish demand is rising,


52% of all fisheries are fully exploited.


25% above that are in collapse, they are overextended.


So we only have 23% of the world's fisheries left that we can use


So if we still want to eat fish at the rate that we're eating it,


Finless Foods takes a small sample of cells from real


One cell can theoretically become one tonne of fish meat


We'll be on the market in three years with products that


are new versions of fish that people haven't had before and in five


or six years we'll have steaks and filets like the fish that


you currently eat at the supermarket, just like what's


inside of the fish that you'd normally see in the ocean.


And they're not the only company working on what some


Just this week, Hampton Creek claimed they will hit the stores


And around the corner at Memphis Meats, they've already


produced fried chicken and meatballs from stem cells.


But at $18,000 for a pound of beef, there's a long way to go.


Scaling up will mean finding a new medium to help


Currently, the blood of calf foetuses is used,


which is extensive and of course, if you don't want to hurt animals,


When I come into a room at a conference, I can see


in people's eyes that this is the next big thing,


a big evil corporation going to put things in my food that


And I think that is justified, in a way.


People have been given things into their food supply


People have a right to be wary of us.


We need to talk to people and really make them


understand that we are people, we are environmentalists.


We are all trying to do this together.


With the population due to increase to 9.7 billion by 2050,


many people feel current approaches to food production


Cultured meat promises to reduce environmental impacts and meat looks


set to be the latest thing to be given the Silicon Valley overhaul.


Much like we expect from our phones, from our cars, that it


will be better, cheaper, faster, safer, year by year,


we should expect the same thing from our food.


But once you start thinking about food, a cow, as a pure


piece of technology, and you apply those same


technological insights we use elsewhere in our lives,


you can start really thinking about what food should be,


I think I'll stick to the salad for the moment.


Which is lucky, because I'm surrounded by the stuff.


The thing that really hits you inside one of these


It's just lovely, all this concentrated fresh lettuce.


And you don't even get this, I don't think, in an open-air field.


I'm inside what is called a food computer, where every aspect


of the plant's growth cycle - the temperature, nutrient


mix, humidity and light is monitored and controlled.


This kind of computer-controlled hydroponics is allowing food


scientists to not just replicate but improve on Mother


So every plant that we grow has a finely-tuned growing algorithm


to optimise its growth, its yield and its flavour profiles


And that doesn't just mean more or bigger plants, but that experts


in Artificial Intelligence can tweak plants in ways nature can't.


By doing so we can surely improve on plants without messing with the DNA.


We are not changing the genetic make up of the plant.


Up in San Francisco, this man has been using AI


And he has worked out how to improve the herb basil.


During a certain period of growth, if we show them a spectrum of light


24/7, then the volatiles for taste in the plant will go up.


Did a chef really come and say that he wants his basil


We had a couple of chefs come in and sample basil


And it increases the spiciness, blue light applied to basil.


So you can say, what kind of basil would you like to buy, and how spicy


It's exciting to ask these questions that even a 30-year veteran


of the culinary industry has not been asked before.


Not only does each variety get its own unique growing


conditions but artificial intelligence and computer vision


are monitoring the plants, looking out for and treating any


Local Roots hopes to place between 20 and 50 of its so-called


'terrafarms' right next to supermarkets' local


It means the veg won't have to travel so far and it will be


I've always needed a dressing on my salad because I thought it


tasted quite bland without it, but this is really full of flavour.


I could even eat an entire bowl of this without any dressing.


But some researchers don't like the idea


of individual companies doing research by themselves.


Putting life in a box is incredibly complex.


It requires biology as much as chemistry, as much as plant


And so right now it's being tackled by a lot of start-ups and it's hard


for those start-ups to have such a multidisciplinary approach.


This is why all of our work is open sourced -


the hardware, software - so we can get people thinking


on the issues and we can ask them for advice.


And we are not stymied by intellectual property.


At MIT's media lab, the Open Agricultural Initiative,


or OpenAg, wants to create a worldwide collection


One of the things that we've invented here we call the personal


food computer and it's like a hacker kit for plants.


What we've done is distributed all the plans, all the materials,


We now have a community of over 40 countries, over 1000 people.


The great thing is that their experiences are being


Because to use any of our advanced tools, like machine learning or AI,


Artificial intelligence can look for patterns among these data points


which are the results of thousands of experiments and the more


wide-ranging those experiments, the better.


We might learn inside of a food computer what set of climate


attributes causes the best expression of protein in a snow pea.


Now we might say, hey, where in the world are these collections


And then we should plant that genetics, those


So not only might food computers improve on nature


but they could also teach us more about how to get the best out


It has been a week when suspicions were raised a global cyber attack


may have been caused by accountancy software.


Security researchers suspect that a corrupted update to some Ukrainian


accountancy software may have been the cause of the global infection,


although the company behind the software denies these claims.


Plus: A team at MIT has created drones that can drive and fly.


Although these drones are diminutive, one day


they could be the foundation for technology which facilitates


And it was the week that researchers at a university in Madrid revealed


they have been teaching a robot to iron clothes.


Teo's designers hope that eventually it will be able to perform a whole


Hopefully a bit quicker than this, though.


Famously, they say dedication is what you need if you want


It is also what you need if you want to recreate that teaser


trailer for the next Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, on a 30-year-old


That is exactly what New York artist Wahyu Ichwandardi has done,


hand-drawing each frame with an old-school touch tablet,


saving them all on 48 floppy disks - remember them?


And then transferring them to a contemporary computer


Despite our quest for new ways of creating more food,


we do actually have a huge issue with food waste.


In the UK alone, in 2015, consumers threw away ?13 billion


worth of food that could have been eaten.


But we are getting more creative with ways to solve the problem.


This community fridge in London's Brixton allows


businesses, or indeed anyone, to drop off or help themselves


But big companies like Sainsbury's are taking on the challenge as well.


This week, various stores are trialling some new packaging


With 1.9 million slices thrown away each day,


the supermarket want to find a way of being able to reassure customers


once they are at home and they have opened the product.


Because sometimes people throw it away, not remembering


when they opened it, so they don't know whether it is fresh or not.


But the underneath of this piece of smart plastic is sensitive to air


and temperature, so it will start to react as soon as the package


It will turn from yellow round to purple when it is telling


you the meat is not good to eat anymore.


Some other companies have focused on preserving food longer.


Edipeel is an invisible, natural, plant-based coating that aims


It has recently been trialled by some farmers in the US.


This is also this fresh filter paper, which aims to limit the gas


It has progressed to consumer packaging in supply chains,


and is now even being used in restaurants.


Of course, for eateries, buying the exact amount of produce


So, while it won't help for financial loss, there are some


It is late afternoon in the office, and I am feeling a bit peckish,


so I sneaked out to get something to eat.


Too Good To Go will put restaurant leftovers to good use,


while also giving you takeaway for as little as ?2.


What could I go for now, mid-afternoon?


The one issue here is that you can't actually be fussy


You don't know what you are going to be getting.


So going for juice, well, in my view it can't really


OK, I get it may not be easy to see the bargain factor with a juice,


I am just here to collect my juice, please.


But, of course, it is not just restaurants who can end up with more


If you have food in your house that you want to avoid wasting,


or you want to claim some from the neighbours,


Olio searches your local area to find food being given away,


and you can post what you have to offer.


OK, I get that this isn't everybody's cup of tea,


but this location-based app will show you everyone around


you who is trying to donate unwanted food.


So, on my way home from work, there is some hummus,


That seems to be left over from a shop, actually.


Somebody is offering a frozen banana, which does kind of seem


And of course, in true sharing-economy fashion,


The most important factor here is that we learn


But of course, the easier that is made for us to do,


So, throughout the programme, we have been looking at technology


But how about food that creates technology?


Sounds crazy, I know, but Dan Simmons has been to Holland


This is a small twist on a classical Dutch dish.


Yes, this year's Dutch MasterChef winner has baked a car.


This is sports steering wheel, firm suspension on the seats?


Is it right to say that nobody has driven this car before?


I will take good care of it, I will take good care of it.


Most of Lina is organic, including these almost-edible panels


made from sugar beet, sandwiched between coatings


of natural flax, mixed with bio-plastic.


So we are just going to reverse this back down the track.


I have got my foot fully to the floor now.


It is about four times more efficient with its energy


I knew there was a reason to pick this car.


We cooked up the flax ourselves, and then we just started trialling.


And we had to do a lot of tests, fresh material, find the boundaries


and the limits to the material, and eventually we came up with -


And that is what we have used in Lina.


In fairness, it is a different kind of performance that Lina offers.


The team says cooking this car uses about 20% of the energy that


aluminium or carbon fibre panels take to produce,


and this week, Lina passed a road safety test.


She is expected out on public roads by the end of July.


So I would not make a statement that currently the automotive industry


is thinking about the portfolio of making biodegradable cars,


but I'm sure they are thinking about the circular economy.


They are thinking about how can they take apart the current cars


and the future cars, and to reuse them to build new cars,


so to really make a circular, green economy.


To make Lina a lean machine, the team have taken a sort


OK, we don't have the modern-day luxuries, like maybe a glove


compartment, or somewhere to place my coffee.


So I can't wind down the windows in this model?


And the key advantage of it is not just in driving,


but when you park it for the last time, a lot of this car


Now, the electric engine, batteries and suspension are not


organic, but the team hope Lina will inspire carmakers to think


beyond electric, to make our cars even more eco-friendly.


That was Dan, in the Netherlands, and that is it from my


You can follow us on Twitter, @BBCClick.


Thanks for watching, and we will see you soon.


We've got more of that hot and humid weather coming up


Yesterday we had temperatures of 30 degrees in both Heathrow and Wisley


in Surrey, and we're going to see temperatures again getting to those


kind of levels later in the afternoon.


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