Vertical farming meets personalised nutrition for the ‘kitchen garden’ of the future

The EIT Food-backed PERsonalised Nutrition although kitchen Gardens (PERNUG) undertaking goals to develop hydroponic programs to develop a spread of meals crops in a home setting.

EIT Food is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), half of the European Union. The undertaking brings collectively the abilities and experience of Studio Kapp, which has developed kitchen gardens and Internet of Things meals options, The Quadram Institute, a centre for meals and well being analysis, and KU Leuven, which gives expertise in client research, co-creating options and the growth of client interfaces and apps.

The ambition is to create a business product inside two years.

“PERNUG will deliver a commercial product by 2023, with 2022 being a pilot year. The pilot will test solutions with key players from across the food supply chain and aims to make sustainable hydroponic produce widely accessible and affordable,”​ Lauri Kapp, founder of Studio Kapp, instructed FoodNavigator.

“Rising consumer awareness of the inherent links between food, health and the environment are driving demand for more personalised and sustainable food choices. Yet, the values, focus and methods of the present food system are not aligned to help consumers achieve their individual health goals or to reduce their environmental footprint,”​ Kapp noticed.

Pilot research are already placing prototype kitchen gardens into households. Consumer suggestions shall be used to design the last product.

“Next year we will conduct a proof of concept study to test the efficacy of the system, i.e. can we improve the nutritional status of users of the system,”​ Kapp added.

Produce for personalised nutrition

The undertaking will hyperlink shoppers to the newest scientifically validated knowledge on nutrition and well being, enabling them to pick from a spread of totally different crops and varieties linked to their very own personalised dietary wants.

Consumer well being info shall be collected although an app that may even present recipe options.

“We are currently developing a consumer interface (an app) that allows users to input their data and receive recipe recommendations,”​ Dr Paul Kroon from the Quadram Institute instructed this publication.

“The app will use the user-inputted data combined with data on food composition, bioavailability and how to maximise nutrients of interest to provide recipe recommendations, with the kitchen garden providing a fresh and convenient source of plants biofortified with the nutrients of choice. There will also be the possibility of including other user-inputted data such as personal taste or proximity preferences, for example ‘based on liking this recipe here is another one you might like’.”​ 

The group will develop recipes that use produce grown in the kitchen backyard to ship the RDA of numerous vitamins. PERNUG believes it’s going to ship a ‘consumer-focused solution’ to the ‘widespread and growing problem’ of micronutrient deficiency.

The researchers are initially specializing in iron and vitamin B12.

In virtually each EU nation, over half of ladies of childbearing age don’t eat the really helpful consumption of iron​, research recommend. Meanwhile vitamin B12 is a micronutrient that’s often supplied for in the food regimen by meat, with crops unable to make it. The rising recognition of vegetarian and vegan diets is anticipated to extend the quantity of individuals poor in vitamin B12, the researchers famous.

“Our current focus in the trials is on two micronutrients (iron and vitamin B12) where we know significant numbers of people are at risk of being deficient based on demographic data. In future we can expand this, including, for example, providing recommendations based on the individual nutritional needs defined by at-home testing kits,”​ Dr Kroon defined.

By testing and choosing totally different varieties of edible crops and experimenting on how including vitamins to the rising media can biofortify the crops, the completed system will present a alternative of crops that include excessive ranges of vitamins.

“We are assured we will obtain vital will increase in the intakes of iron and vitamin B12 if shoppers use the system in the manner it was designed for use. Plants don’t make B12 and so the B12 biofortified crops grown in these models shall be distinctive. Our R&D so far suggests we will obtain the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for vitamin B12 consumption from the kitchen gardens.

“For iron, the key shall be to make use of a mixture of hydroponics with biofortification and provision of recipes that use plant meals which are wealthy in iron and importantly bioavailable iron (i.e. a comparatively excessive fraction of the ingested iron is absorbed and contributes to physique iron shops). The subsequent stage of the undertaking is to check the system via a pilot research the place contributors will use the system for a interval of time and we are going to assess their dietary standing earlier than and after they’ve used it.”

Sustainable nutrition via vertical farms

The undertaking contributors describe vertical farming as ‘one of the solutions to making agriculture more sustainable’, while supplying produce year-round to fulfill client demand.

Crops are cultivated with out soil in a managed, optimised surroundings, with out the want for pesticides. They effectively reuse sources, lowering wastage, EIT Food famous. Vertical farms have been proven to make use of 90% much less water and ship a lot increased yields per sq. metre of land.

One query typically raised over the environmental credentials of vertical farms pertains to their vitality use​, as a result of they depend on LED lighting. 

Dr Kroon stated that whereas a life cycle evaluation has not been accomplished on the PERNUG system, it’s seemingly that vitality use shall be much like that of different kitchen home equipment. “The kitchen garden uses a standard domestic electrical power supply. Electricity usage is likely to be similar to other domestic white goods units. We have not done a full lifecycle analysis but the shift in electricity production towards renewables is nicely aligned with the marketing of these kitchen gardens,”​ he instructed us.

Currently, round 20% of vitality utilized in the EU comes from renewable sources and targets have been put in place to extend this additional.

Bringing manufacturing into the home setting gives a quantity of different inexperienced features, the researchers contended. It eliminates the provide chain wanted to carry recent produce to the house, slicing the influence of transportation and addressing meals waste throughout transit.

Cutting meals miles additionally maximises the nutrient ranges in produce, addressing the situation of post-harvest nutrient loss.

“Kitchen gardens have a range of consumer and environmental benefits compared to those obtained via conventional supply chains. But they also offer a great opportunity to deliver personalised nutrition, and in the PERNUG project we are developing kitchen gardens that grow more nutrient-rich plants and allowing users to select from carefully designed and delicious recipes that deliver the types and amounts of nutrients such as minerals and vitamins they need,”​ Dr Kroon concluded.

As nicely as the house kitchen, the PERNUG kitchen backyard shall be appropriate for set up in workplaces, faculties and different establishments, the researchers famous. 

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