Arctic Plant Cells Fresh From Your Kitchen
Urban dwellers are hungry for fresh and healthy foods, while being increasingly aware of the sustainability of food production. Getting involved in the production of food is also an emerging trend: consumers are becoming prosumers, meaning that they want to take part in the food production process themselves. Many plants found in the Arctic are of interest to global markets, but cannot be foraged or cultivated at large scale.
Home bioreactor concept
An exciting approach is the use of plant cell cultures for food. Cell cultures can be made from any living plant, also from species not traditionally used for food, such as birch. Cultured cells retain the potential of plants to produce bioactive molecules, but are free of many limitations.
Growing the plant cells in contained bioreactors avoids over-harvesting of wild plants and excess use of agrochemicals, arable land, potable water or fertilizers in agriculture. Furthermore, VTT’s home bioreactor concept enables anyone to grow plant cells, fresh at home.
The VTT solution constitutes a disruptive technology making agriculture ultimately redundant. Food production becomes independent of seasons, geographical area and political situations while being sustainable and environmentally sound.
From cosmetics to dining tables
The research at VTT aims to develop scalable and economically feasible cultivation of plant cells for food applications, either fresh or as ingredients.
The composition of cell cultures from native arctic plants is analysed in detail and cell lines with unique characteristic are continuously being developed. Cell cultures from VTT´s collection are already utilized commercially in cosmetics; the next step is to take the same technology to the food sector and even to home cultivation.
The home bioreactor is the first bioreactor designed to bring cellular agriculture to the home environment and into the hands of the end-user. The prototype is developed further towards commercialization.