Humanity has been alternating the nature with human-centered thinking from many perspectives. And our food habit is one of them causing the direct impact. We cultivate and bread species based on our preferences, such as wheat and cows which constantly disrupts local ecosystems and aggravates to the global warming. How might we alter the food industry to be less disruptive? What if our food habits can adapt to the ecosystem instead of consuming. Econut is therefore created to speculate an alternative future of more-than-human-centered food lifestyle that provokes reflections on our existing food habits and agriculture systems. And it is also a practice of non-human centered thinking, which providing unusual perspectives to look into humanity in its comprehensive context and aiming for nudging preferable futures.
In 2025, an ecological snack, Econut, became popular among the citizens. These treats are made out of invasive species, which negatively impact biodiversity and are the third leading cause of species extinctions. In New York City, a disruptive and invasive species called the snakehead fish was identified in Meadow Lake and Willow Lake in Queens. While this species appears physically grotesque, they can make for an excellent meal. Therefore, the AI-powered Econut store is designed to closely monitor the status and activities of snakehead fish in these two lakes. Based on big data, the store recommends the number of snakehead fish that should be removed from these lakes daily with the help of robots, so that donut-shaped snacks can be made out of all their edible parts. Each snack is filled with fresh fish jelly and wrapped with crispy fried fish skin. Each Econut is named based on its ingredients, such as SHF for snakehead fish, and has a unique number on its package, which allows the consumer to track the specific disruptive species that was used to create that Econut. Those numbers also work as a medal for each consumer's contribution to balancing the local ecosystem.
Ecologarian Lifestyle Movement
As Econut became more and more popular, it led to a new lifestyle choice and food movement, called the ecologarian movement, which focuses on eating as a means of eco-balancing. Restaurants also started providing ecologarian menus to fulfill their customer's needs. The vision of the ecologarian is, eventually through the combined efforts of all ecologarians, we'll be able to thrive while coexisting with our local ecosystems.
More-than-human Centered Thinking
The concept of the Econut is not only a speculation of an alternative food future, but also a practice of non-human centered thinking, which provides an unusual perspective through which to look at humanity in its comprehensive context and seek to move ourselves towards more preferable futures.
For a long time, we've been putting ourselves at the center of our understanding of the world while overlooking our relationship with other species and our position in the overall ecosystem. Now, we have started to realize more and more about the problems and challenges resulting from this framework. It's time for us to find an alternative way to evolve ourselves and the planet.
By cultivating highly nutritious crops and utilizing lab-grown meat as our main food sources, we can lessen our interfere with and impact on the environment. However, instead of separating us from nature and becoming more isolated, we believe in the power of uniting and collaborating as a part of nature. As we tackle these big challenges, we must believe in the ability of our intelligence and humanity to lead us to find better ways to thrive and coexist with other lifeforms while deepening our understanding of ourselves on this planet and within the universe.
Exhibition at Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing
Project type: Sponsored
Presented at NEW INC X Science Sandbox’s Radical Evolution
Featured on BioDesigned Issue 6 “It’s 2071, and You’re Hungry”
Core77 Award Speculative Design Category Winner
Exhibited at Beijing Hyundai Motorstudio