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Food Blocks: Appetite Visualization and Food Waste in Urban

Create a food units of measurement and Regularizing the appearance of ingredients to face the food waste in the future.

Photo of Yuchen Gao
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

De Boer Wang Studio, Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Student from 2016BIPS (branding, identity and public space), Visual Communication, Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Huangpu District, Xuhui District, Jing'an District, and other Shanghai City Center Districts, covers an area of 606 km^2

What country is your selected Place located in?

First China urban cities, and other Industrialized countries

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I spent four years in Shanghai in my university. I experienced a series of food consumption experiences in Shanghai, including cooking at home, taking out fast food, eating out, making guest banquets, etc. I was familiar with the local food selling and sales methods. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Shanghai is the largest city in China and one of the global economic centers. Therefore, compared with other cities in China, Shanghai's food consumption habits and experiences are more in line with the economically developed areas with a large proportion of food waste. In addition to local residents, there are a large number of residents from all over the city, which is a city with strong inclusiveness and high level of economic consumption. 

According to the consumption report of meituan, one of China's largest takeout platforms, in September 2019, the consumption of health-oriented light food in China increased by 98% compared with that in 2018, with a 58% increase in businesses. Shanghai's sales volume was the first, which also showed that Shanghai residents paid more attention to health and physical consumption in food consumption, and had a higher acceptance of alternative food, super food and other non-traditional food.

In the food supermarket, there are 1 / 2 kinds of food products that advocate people to buy food rationally.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.


This project, based on the growing number of hungry people in the world, but food waste is increasing year by year, will focus on the more economically developed areas with a greater amount of food waste, hoping to find ways to improve food waste in urban households by speculating on the possibility of future food systems, in order to be more environmentally friendly. A more sustainable way to help solve the problem of food waste.

It is estimated 1/3 of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption, gets lost or wasted globally, which is about 13 billion ton per year, estimates of global food waste have been as high as 32%. At the same time, the number of hungry people worldwide reached 821 million, which means 1/9 people in the world is suffering from hunger. The global hunger rate stopped increasing or decreasing in 2015 and began to rise for three years in a row, and we will need more food in the next 30 years as the population grows.

The earth's resource development has reached its peak, so saving food is a more sustainable way to develop than just turning more forests into farmland. Food loss and waste are concentrated in the production and transportation of food and consumption of food, the main causes are also divided into objective (science and technology, economic level) and subjective (consciousness) reasons. Reducing food waste requires only need a little change in management systems or lifestyle changes compared to investing a lot of money and technology to reduce food loss. In many regions and countries of the world, the more economically developed countries are causing more wasteful behavior, so the objectives of project are also concentrating in urban areas.

In the future, where food, population and environmental pressures are about to reach a critical level, urban food waste is closely related to today's choice of food consumption behavior, so this project is mainly from the future food system as an entry point, through investigation and analysis of the future trends of food development, so as to reduce food waste.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Through investigation and observation, the ways of contact between consumers and food are diverse. Due to the diversity of ways and behavior psychology, this project attempts to change from the source of food waste, that is, the source of consumption behavior, and puts forward the idea of visualizing consumers' food consumption so as to promote consumers to conduct rational food consumption: Food block.

According to the data, at present, most of the food comes from natural cultivation and planting. It is difficult to unify the volume and nutrition of each kind of food material, which leads to the different demand for each kind of food, and it is difficult to reach the unified standard of different kinds of food materials. Synthetic food offers the possibility of this idea. Since the birth of mayonnaise without yolk in 2014, more unnatural foods like meat free hamburgers have appeared, and the representative representative of Soylent is also emerging. This shows that in the future, the vast majority of food will no longer be what it is today, and the concept of food block is based on this trend.

The concept of food block is to change all processed food materials into a uniform size (square block), so that consumers can know how many squares their food consumption is through simple self-test several times, and then adjust through different scenarios and demand calculation. And the food sellers also provide different specifications of food, similar to the different ml cup types that many coffee shops now offer. So as to provide reference standards for food consumption instead of relying on experience and feeling.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

At present, the food cube is applicable to the measurement of raw materials, so as to standardize the calculation of food quantity in the following more processing links. Its use can not stop food waste, but it can provide a measure standard for people's food consumption to a large extent. It is applicable to many places in people's life that have relations with food: purchasing food materials, ordering meals online and offline, and entertaining guests.

Moreover, once it is realized and developed, it will benefit not only consumers in the consumption chain, but also the producers, reprocessers, transporters and sellers. For example, the ugly food that they dislike because of its ugly appearance will disappear, and the transportation will save space and loss because of its simple and regular shape. Because of its synthetic and nutritious ingredients, it can also make great contribution to the environment and food nutrition of the earth, and has unlimited possibilities.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Since 2015, the global hunger population index has been increasing year by year, and with the global population growth in the next 10 to 30 years, the food system will face greater challenges and pressures, and the adjustment and improvement of the food system is imminent. The project hopes to explore the challenges faced by the food system, combine with the development of future technology, and adjust the food system from the perspective of design, so that it can face the future food pressure in a more sustainable way. In the future when the pressure of food, population and environment is about to reach a critical value, saving food is a more sustainable development mode than developing more earth resources. It is understood that the loss and waste of food that is not used by human beings in the food system is huge every year, and the phenomenon of food waste mostly occurs in the consumption link, which is produced by the subjective behavior (consciousness) of consumers, which is a low-cost way.

So far, the project is still in the conceptual stage, but it is not impossible to achieve. Whether it is the current trend of food consumption or the development trend of food types in the future, it has great possibility. If it is to be realized, the first thing to be solved is to carry out certain experiments on the relationship between food nutrition, volume and food consumption with the scientific support of nutritionists and the technology of synthetic food, and then to persuade the stakeholders in the food system to use it.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website


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