Bamboo for breakfast and algae for lunch: the future of food, according to kids

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Eco-conscious children believe we’ll be eating very differently in the future, new research today shows. According to a study of 1,000 5-12-year-olds, four in 10 (44%) believe we’ll eat less meat in 50 years’ time, instead opting for plant-based alternatives (35%) such as bamboo and algae, cheese made without milk (25%), meat grown in factories (20%) and fake fish (12%).

The research, commissioned by Sainsbury’s and the LEGO Group UK & Ireland, has not only revealed what kids believe we’ll be eating in the future, but also how attitudes towards food have changed due to COVID-19 and how experimental kids are.

The findings show that the pandemic has made one in five reconsider their eating habits, opting for healthier food then before lockdown. Of those, half (50%) of children surveyed are eating more fruit and over a third (34%) consume more vegetables. In fact, data shows vegetable sales grew from 9.7% to 10.9%, share of all grocery products purchased between March and June 2019 vs 2020, as the nation opted to cook more meals from scratch.* Encouragingly, more than a quarter (27%) of kids say that the pandemic has made them more aware about their health and wellbeing, whilst one in five (20%) say they are more eco-conscious than before.

In a bid to educate children about where food comes from and the importance of healthy eating, Sainsbury’s has launched LEGO® Collectable Cards and Album. Available until 27 October, the cards take children on an exhilarating journey of discovery to learn about different foods from around the world and where on the planet they originate. The cards and album are an educational tool for creative play that introduce children to global cuisine. One pack of four cards is free for every £10 spent in store and online, whilst albums cost £2.50.

Future of food

Whilst one in five children currently think they know where food comes from, an impressive 35% would like to learn more. It’s not surprising to hear then that kids today have exceptionally strong views on what we will and won’t eat in the future, with the overwhelming majority believing we’ll consume less animal products in 50 years’ time.

But it’s not just animal products children are concerned with. Nearly a quarter (23%) think we’ll innovate and create nuts that people can’t be allergic to, whilst one in five (20%) believe insects will appear on the menu. Bamboo, algae, jellyfish and beetles are also topped to become foods of the future.

Trying new food

Variety is the spice of life, and despite one in three (31%) children saying they’ve been called a fussy eater, nearly half (49%) like trying new foods – suggesting they aren’t as fussy as people think.

By experimenting with food, kids can fall in love with new flavours and tap into their adventurous side. Interestingly, 21% of kids are most likely to try different cuisine at school, closely followed by a friend’s house (19%).

Favourite foods

Parents often encourage children to substitute healthier choices for crisps and pizza, but children are making healthy choices themselves. Research shows kids prefer the healthy option, with 78% enjoying strawberries and 70% loving apples, compared to burgers (69%) and bacon (59%).

Children also recognise the nutritional benefits of certain food, and whilst one in four (27%) eat carrots because they think they will help them see in the dark, 60% eat them because they think they taste nice. Meanwhile 57% drink milk to help them grow strong bones.

Getting hands on with food

A great way of inspiring children to taste new ingredients and try global cuisine is by allowing them to be involved throughout the process; from purchasing or growing, to cooking. 60% of children surveyed enjoy helping to cook and an impressive 35% of children would like to learn more about where their food comes from. This shows the importance of establishing good eating habits early in life.

To keep kids entertained this Autumn, this year’s Sainsbury’s LEGO® Collectables Cards and Album take children on a culinary journey across seven continents with characters Sam and Lily. The Collectors Album is brimming with educational facts on the importance of eating different food groups, so kids can learn about global cuisine in an engaging way as they play.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said: “It’s encouraging to hear that children are more adventurous than ever when it comes to food. Not only are they thinking about what they’re eating now, but also what they’ll be eating in the future. Bamboo on toast and jellyfish sushi it is!”.

Rebecca Adlington OBE, who has fronted the campaign with Sainsbury’s, said: “Being an athlete, I’ve always been conscious of eating a well-balanced, healthy diet and think it’s important to teach children about different food types and groups from a young age so that when growing up, they can make informed decisions.

“That said, being a parent myself I also understand that teaching kids about anything is often easier said than done – particularly after home schooling during lockdown!

“I try to teach my daughter about different things – including food – in fun ways, as that way she’s more likely to engage and remember it. Sainsbury’s LEGO® Collectables Cards and Album have been brilliant over the last few weeks as they combine play with education, making my job as a parent much easier.”