Roots of Revolution: Food Intelligence with Fengru Lin


Food Intelligence


As far as I can remember, food and excitement have always come hand in hand. From snooping on Mom’s cooking to tasting the first bite at a fancy restaurant, every moment with food has always evoked anticipation. In my mind, that’s exactly how it should be: food should thrill, delight, and tantalize.

When the first wave of sustainable food alternatives began to hit the mainstream, I was transfixed. Gone was the food of the past, consigned to ancient history. In its place, a brave new world had emerged, one synonymous with ethical almond milks, tempeh steaks, and even actual meat grown from cells (madness!).

Yet, beyond the initial hype came an unshakable sense of missed opportunity. In this new paradise, why were these miraculous foods not redefining every aspect of how we eat? Beyond being better for the planet, could they not also be better for us too?

Since then, countless new sustainable food items have hit the market. Still, a lingering sense of untapped potential remains. As the conversation around the future of food remains squarely locked on sustainability, it’s clear that change is needed—and that’s where Food Intelligence comes in.

Food Intelligence: Rethinking What Food Should Be

Heading into the second quarter of 2022, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the notion of “sustainable food” is no longer enough. In a single-minded pursuit of sustainability, sustainable food companies have arguably neglected everything else, leaving things like taste and nutritiousness by the wayside. As long as environmental consciousness remains the only goal, this seems unlikely to change.

Designed to dismantle this status quo, Food Intelligence provides a new game plan—a fresh way to envision the food of tomorrow. Conceived together with my incredible teammates at TurtleTree, Food Intelligence is essentially a novel framework that unites insight, information, and nutrition for better food production.

Moving away from sustainability, this framework first expands the ideal vision of food into a multidimensional one. Then, by leveraging on science, education, and transparency, it seeks to improve how food is created across these dimensions. In addition to ethical products that are better for the environment, Food Intelligence will ultimately enable tastier, healthier foods that are also better for humanity.

Food Intelligence in Action: The 5 Pillars

At its most basic level, Food Intelligence can be expressed through 5 key pillars:

  • Delicious: Maximizing the satisfaction derived from every bite
  • Ethical: Facilitating kinder and more sustainable consumption
  • Culturally conscious: Respecting different lifestyles and the heritage of the world’s cuisines
  • Functionally nutritious: Promoting health and adding functional benefits to performance
  • Transparently sourced: Creating greater awareness of where our food comes from

Encapsulating the holistic perspective of Food Intelligence, these pillars will shape how TurtleTree thinks of and creates the next generation of food. Subsequently, cutting-edge science, sustained education, and a commitment to transparency can be adopted in various ways to take this vision to fruition—for instance:

  • Using new innovations to create cell-based food that looks, tastes, and smells like the real thing
  • Educating consumers on the merits of cell-based food, promoting adoption of environmentally-friendly, cruelty-free eating
  • Blending knowledge of food culture with technology to create specialized options such as vegan-friendly foods and cultural delicacies
  • Utilizing performance-driven insights to create functional food ingredients with health and athletic benefits
  • Using data monitoring to maintain a strictly controlled food processing environment, ensuring that the source of food is never in doubt

While each pillar undoubtedly yields great potential in itself, the possibilities become truly spectacular when you start putting them together. Just imagine a cell-based sirloin steak that’s indistinguishable from the real thing, enhanced with health-boosting properties and made without any animal cruelty. That’s exciting. That’s powerful. That’s Food Intelligence.

Into the Future With Food Intelligence

As TurtleTree heads into the future, Food Intelligence will underpin everything from products in development to fresh concepts. In a space crowded with players, Food Intelligence will be our difference-maker and a unique calling card that separates TurtleTree from the pack.

In the grander scheme of things, Food Intelligence will also give us the chance to redefine an industry currently plagued by same-old, same-old. Instead of being constrained by the inadequate ideals of “sustainable food”, we want the makers and consumers of tomorrow to ask new questions about the things we eat. This means not just figuring out how to make them kinder but also tastier, healthier, and better in every conceivable way.

In time, I sincerely believe we will make food that thrills, delights, and tantalizes again—and then the revolution can truly begin.