Thursday, September 26, 2019

On Wednesday 18th of September, 24 students and 4 teachers from the IES Nosa Señora de Os Ollos Grandes school in Lugo visited IMDEA Food Institute to have a quick journey to… Iceland! How could the students from Spain see the vertical farm in Iceland and have a look at the fish manufacturing facility in 2 hours?! The answer is simple: the #FutureKitchen project of EIT Food makes it possible to see the innovative technology of the future sustainable food in … Virtual Reality!

Firstly, the students were shown the interactive CIN exhibition where they learned some facts about the complex interaction between our diet and lifestyle and the genes that dictate whether we will develop certain diseases in the future. What is an SNP, how do different populations of the globe metabolize lactose and why should pregnant women avoid certain products? The answers were found during the brief tour of around the “Diet and Health” exhibition of IMDEA. The students could also play the “Feed your Genes” game and collect a puzzle of the essential nutrients on the interactive panels.

Then, the most fun part of the visit began! A part of the students got the chance to put themselves “in the shoes” of the real researchers, see how the experiments are done by the lab bench and how is the genetic data analysed, whereas the other part followed the communication team to continue their visit by the virtual travel to the Icelandic reality!

During this part of the visit, the high-school students from Lugo got the opportunity to truly immerse themselves into the snowy Icelandic environment and learn about how they manage to grow tomatoes and other vegetables in such extreme conditions?! (Top-tip: indoor vertical farming is the answer!). Observing the fish manufacturing process and seeing the seafood being 3D-printed in virtual reality was also quite an experience for the students, which they had to later describe in the questionnaires and tell us about in the interview

Lastly, the students stopped by the GENYAL platform and spoke to the nutritionists from IMDEA about the clinical trials investigating how human genomes interact with the specific diet constituents and how these interactions, in turn, affect human body in health and disease.

Thanks to the fruitful collaboration between Imdea Food Institute and the Centro de Intercombio Escolar, the “high-tech” visit of the students to Imdea’s “Future Kitchen” turned out to be a success!

Talking about tech… Using the Virtual Reality headsets for educational purposes is definitely becoming an increasingly popular way to engage the students and the youth into the conversation about different important topics such as the food sustainability. Technology is certainly helping us to solve the pressing problems associated with the current (often unsustainable) food production practices in Europe, but how much do young people know about it?

We really hope that the Lugo students enjoyed exploring the advances in the food tech field in a fun and entertaining way and learned a lot of new things about the Precision Nutrition and healthy diet!