Our weekly serving of off-the-menu items—a few popular favorites from the week, as well as a few morsels that might have slipped your notice.

Microalgae-Based Proteins

The increasing need for more efficient and sustainable food production is prompting agri-tech companies to search for alternative ways of producing protein. Among the options that might feed the populations of the future is microalgae—this single-celled organism has over 30,000 different species, many of which are proportionally high in protein. Although microalgae has been produced commercially on a smaller scale in ponds or test tubes, industrial fermenters are making it possible to grow microalgae on a larger scale.

Turning Food Containers into Furniture

Research and design studio The New Raw has launched a new initiative, Print Your City, that allows consumers to turn their food containers and other plastic waste into street furniture. Participants can choose from options like a planter, bike rack or book case, and then have their furniture of choice constructed by a robotic 3D printing arm.

Illustration by Matt Dorfman.

Milk Across the Animal Kingdom

Although milk has long been thought of as a mammalian trait, researchers are finding that not all milks are specific to mammals. Insects like the tsetse fly and cockroaches—among others—also produce nutritionally rich liquids for their offspring that bear a striking resemblance to the chemical makeup many mammalian milks.

A Conceptual Cocoa Museum

Lebanese-Ghanaian firm KEY Architecture Group is celebrating the agricultural history of Ghana by developing plans for the Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Museum. KEY Architecture will be presenting their concept for the museum at the upcoming Design Indaba festival, including a 3D rendering of the museum, animation, and an overview of the history of cocoa production in Ghana.

Sculpting the Human Form with Root Systems

South Korean artist Sun-Hyuk Kim sculpts the human body using intricate steel webs in the form of root systems. The delicate sculptures—which Kim explains comment on the week and incomplete nature of human existence—are also reminiscent of blood vessels.