13 October 2017

Taste bud challenge - Food innovation in Venlo

Forget the turkey – how about a pasty stuffed with crickets for your Christmas dinner? This was one of the innovative dishes served up by campus residents and companies from around the region during the Dutch Agri Food Week dinner on the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo. Some of the innovations were an acquired taste. For the most part, however, the guests largely enjoyed not only the dishes, but also the stories behind them.

vegan ultrarunner

On the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, scientists, students and entrepreneurs work together on the development of safe and healthy food. Some of their results were on show during the Dutch Agri Food Week dinner, including innovative products by students from the Master in Health Food Innovation Management at University College Venlo of Maastricht University, one of the partners of the Venlo campus. There was bread by ultrarunner Nicole Vernhout, fermented for some 25 hours to break down the gluten into small pieces so as not to cause inflammation of the intestines. There were gluten-free cereals from the C-real team in a handy package to eat on the go, no milk needed – and yet they are a source of calcium, not to mention being suitable for chocoholics. There was protein- and fibre-rich pasta made of 100% oats by Oatelli, and then there were the Pop Peas: light, fibre-rich balls with three times fewer calories than crisps. Guests’ comments on the Pop Peas will be fed back into the research currently underway on the Brightlands Campus to make these healthy munchies market-ready.

agri food

Familiar snacks in sustainable clothing

In addition to the delectable dishes with crickets and other insects, there were familiar snacks dressed up in innovative, sustainable clothing. Take the hamburger and the sausage roll by Smood and Ria Joosten, with traceable meat half filled with mushrooms and the roll made of a dough of oats. Herein may lie part of the solution to the food problem, according to gastronomy professor Peter Klosse: ‘These are recognisable products that taste good, and yet are healthier and less damaging to the environment. People are receptive to the idea of sustainable food if you can offer products like these.’

Authenticity and authority

The dinner kicked off with a speech by Dick Slootweg from Bidfood. He called on the guests from the agricultural sector to be more active in talking about their products: ‘The story of our products has to come from the source – from you.’ Bob Hutten from Hutten Catering gave the closing speech, urging the attendees not to just keep on doing what they have always done, but rather to think about how they can contribute to human vitality. ‘We need to stop producing food as cheaply as possible, to put a stop to the production of rubbish. We in the food sector need to be socially relevant, and yet profitable at the same time. We can do that by offering added value and customisation. There’s a great deal of potential on and around the Brightlands Campus. You have the opportunity to make a difference. By bringing together the authenticity of agricultural entrepreneurs with the authority of science, you can contribute to a better world.’