Selenium Molybdenum

For this post, 'Food' refers to the food ecosystem, while 'Foodie' is the yummy stuff. The post title refers to a light-hearted proposal to boost the nutritional value of soy sauce by adding trace elements. The post image is of Caskai Cascara, a carbonated drink made from coffee cherries, not beans. More details below.

For people looking to further food solutions, there's a food hackathon happening 28th Nov 2019 @ KL with mentors and judges from Tealive (boba), SupplyBunny (wholesale), CFF (agritech), Boost (ewallet), ShopLine (ecommerce), GrubCycle (upcycling), Pona (home cooking) and others. On a related note, some food teasers:

  • Reserve: While some governments do hold food reserves, it will be useful if households store some themselves. Commonly, this might be instant ramen and canned food but these can be costly, have limited shelf lives, and are prone to be nicked for snacks. Can you design a food reserve that is inexpensive, nutritious, has long shelf live, easy to cook or can be eaten straight like with biscuits, and is not prone to be nicked? (Maybe insect protein, you wouldn't want to snack on this, but at a pinch, you might eat it.)
  • Elements Industrial farming (including hydroponic ones) might be stripping minerals and trace elements (eg. selenium, molybdenum, boron) from food. Thus, the lettuce might look deliciously lettuce, but it might not be the whole, wholesome lettuce. Can the lack of minerals in food be readily identified by consumers? Can you make a product that puts back essential minerals into food, perhaps a selenium, molybdenum and boron laced soy sauce? (Not a serious proposal, the easiest, present solution is simply to have a balanced, diverse diet.)
  • Chemicals As more people eat out or have food delivered, have you ever wondered if the greens that are served were rinsed or washed before being cooked? If they are not washed, are contaminants (eg pesticides) present? How can consumers tell if food is free from contaminants, whether fresh or cooked? (Solutions may range from food testing to supply chain tracking).

If you like to take your food solution to a global stage, check out Rockefeller Foundation's Food Futures 2050 challenge (closing 5 Dec 2019, entry). Or, for food accelerators, in SG, have a look at Innovate360, sample portfolio: Sinfoo (alcoholic tofu), AIFS (crickets), Hoow (hitech icecream); in HK, visit Brinc, sample portfolio: Caskai (coffee cherry drink), Phuture (Impossible's porcine challenger) Grounded (milk from coconuts, not coconut milk); in BKK, Space-F, recently started, no portfolio yet.

Foodie [layman's view]
Traditional street food is on the decline in the east. The first setback was the phasing out of street vendors, the second is the gentrification of venues and syndication of food, and the third will be the retirement of the last of the traditional street food purveyors [1]. Some examples of old-school, street food:

  • Wonton Noodle Traditionally, the star of the show was the noodle, not the wonton. It is said the old-fashioned, lightly sauced, al dente version has not been seen for many years. The dish is now defined by toppings and sauces.
  • Roti Canai. This inexpensive, pan-fried, flatbread used to be closer to croissants (light, flaky, tasty enough to be eaten on its own) but is now more on the chewy side. We speculate this might be due to lesser trained street cooks and the use of factory-made dough.
  • Nasi Campur This has resisted change the most, but the old recipes require hours of stirring, cooking and reducing, and a whole lot of spices. It is not possible to expect these of modern vendors given street prices have, in general and relatively, not risen much and society offers many more distractions. Happily, customers nowadays are partial to fast-to-cook, fried, spiced items.

Moving on, modern food, with its roots in the fusion of east and west, is delicious too, robust in flavour and is good business. Check out the new wave at Takeaway 2019 happening tomorrow @ KL with panellists from FooFoo (desserts), myBobaLab (boba), Rawsome (veggie), Santan (airline), Dewakan (fusion), DC (french) and Nadodi (indian).