IELTS Reading Practice Test 14 Printable

Reading Passage 3

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 29-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.

The Future of Food

When we think of the future, most of us imagine hover boards and flying cars, exciting new technological advancements and developments, perhaps even scientific achievements and breakthroughs. What we spend little time contemplating, however, is what we will be eating. Nevertheless, food futurologists and organisations around the world have examined the prospects, and they might, at first glance at least, appear less than thrilling. One thing that’s for certain, according to food futurologist Morgaine Gaye, is that meat will once again become a luxury. “In the West,” she proclaims, “many of us have grown up with cheap, abundant meat”. Unfortunately though, rising prices are spelling the doom of this long-lasting trend. “As a result we are looking for new ways to fill the meat gap.” Professor Sheenan Harpaz of the Volcani Centre in Beit Dagan, Israel, agrees: “As the price of raising livestock goes up, we’ll eat less beef.” So, what will we eat?

According to Harpaz as well as Yoram Kapulnik, the director of the Volcani Centre, the answer to that question lies with our reliance on genetic engineering. As overpopulation and resource depletion will inevitably lead to a struggle to feed the masses, they predict, the food industry will experience a shift in focus from “form” to “function”. “Functional foods” will be genetically modified to provide additional value, and they will be targeted at each group of the population – with foods customised to meet the needs of men, women, the elderly, etc. “Once we have a complete picture of the human genome,” explains Kapulnik, “we’ll know how to create food that better meets our needs.”

But food still has to come from somewhere and leading food futurologists and other scientists are firm on their belief that the foods of the future will come from insects. “They are nutritionally excellent,” says Arnold Van Huis, lead author of Edible Insects, a 2013 report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Not only that but, according to researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, they are also full of protein, and on par with ordinary meat in terms of nutritional value.

Insects are already a part of people’s diets in various cultures in Asia and Africa; however, one major hurdle that will need to be overcome with regards to Western countries is presentation. As Gaye suggests, “things like crickets and grasshoppers will have to be ground down and used as an ingredient in things like burgers”. There is already such an initiative in Kenya and Cambodia (the quite successful WinFood project), and the Netherlands is already investing into research on insect-based diets and the development of insect farm legislation.

Another source of future food, according to Dr Craig Rose of the Seaweed Health Foundation, could be algae. Algae, like insects, are extremely nutritious and already popular in Asia, and could be the perfect solution for three very important reasons: first of all, they can grow both in fresh and salt water – a notable advantage, considering the shortage of land we are bound to experience in the future; secondly, they grow at an astounding pace the likes of which no other plant has ever been found to achieve before; and finally, with 10,000 different types of seaweed around the world, they can open up an exciting world of new flavours for us to discover. But that’s not all: several scientists believe that the biofuel we would extract from algae could lead to a diminished need for fossil fuels, thereby improving our carbon footprint. Algae would, much like insects, need to be refashioned to appeal to Westerners, but research such as the one conducted by scientists at Sheffield Hallam University, who replaced salt in bread and processed foods with seaweed granules with efficacious results, suggests that this is unlikely to pose a problem.

The final option brought forth by scientists is lab-grown, artificial meat. In early 2012, a group of Dutch scientists managed to produce synthetic meat using stem cells originating from cows, and there are already a few companies, such as the San Francisco start-up Impossible Foods and the Manhattan Beach-based Beyond Meat, which are dedicated to manufacturing plant-made meat. The benefits of a worldwide move towards in-vitro meat would be tremendous for the environment, which would see a reduction in energy and water waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and would significantly reduce animal suffering. There is one hindrance to such plans at the moment, sadly, and that’s the price: the first artificial burger, grown at Maastricht University in 2013, cost a whopping €250,000 (£190,545) to make.

Questions 29-33
Complete the summary.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

There are several not particularly 29 ______ theories as to what food might look like in the future, according to several organisations and food futurologists around the world. Morgaine Gaye, a prominent food futurologist, believes that meat is set to all but disappear from our daily diets again due to 30 ______. Professor Harpaz offers the same opinion, contending that 31 ______ will continue to become costlier and costlier. To fill the gap left by meat, he says, we will have no choice but to turn to 32 ______, with “functional foods” that will be aimed at each demographic. The only step we’ll need to take to get there is to manage to decode the 33 ______.

Questions 34-40
Complete the table.
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Future food
Insects34 ________ and full of protein
– Similar to meat in terms of nutritional value
– Regularly consumed in 35 ________
36 ________ will need to be adjusted for unaccustomed cultures
Algae– Easy and quick to 37 ________
– Up to 10 000 different flavours
– Might positively influence 38 ________ by providing us with alternative fuels
Lab-grown meat– Made with bovine 39 ________ and/or plants
– Would lead to a drop in energy and water waste, as well as greenhouse gas emissions
– Would also alleviate 40 ________
– Too expensive at the moment
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