In the Future, Will We Be Growing Fruit in Home Bioreactors?

In the Future, Will We Be Growing Fruit in Home Bioreactors?

A team of molecular biologists wants you to forget about strawberries and, instead, take “cell jam” for a whirl

The home bioreactor in its intended environment. It also provides light for herbs. (Niko Räty)

By Kat Eschner

smithsonian.com 3551046513

In the dead of winter, fresh fruit can be expensive, with soft fruits like berries coming to the United States from Central and South America—sometimes even being flown in. But what if you could grow your own fruit right at home, getting the health benefits of impossible-to-cultivate berries or out-of-season favorites without having to eat pricy imported produce or take supplements?

That’s the question that drove Lauri Reuter and his colleagues at the state-run tech company VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland to start working on a project that totally reimagines how we think of growing food. His team is working on what they’re calling a “home bioreactor”—a countertop appliance that can, in theory, fill the same space in your life as a Nespresso machine does for coffee, but with fresh berry cells, including some from plants that would be impossible to cultivate using traditional means because of their adaptations to life in hostile places like the Arctic…