Can you eat in the metaverse? How the food industry is adapting to Web3

In OneRare, billed as the world’s first food metaverse, you can visit a virtual restaurant with a menu from a celebrity chef, where the signature dish could be butter chicken or cacio e pepe. At a digital farmer’s market, you’ll be able to buy ingredients and then combine them to strike a non-fungible token (NFT) of French fries or Singaporean chicken and rice. You can even donate to a virtual community fridge, which matches a real one in Indonesia. Of course, there are also games you can play against other users, but the difference between this “foodverse” and something like The Sims is that what you do in OneRare, which launches in March, has real-life impact.

If the futurists (and celebrities like Reese Witherspoon) are to be believed, we will soon live a good part of our lives in virtual reality. Our digital avatars will be able to to work, store, exercise and even a date. But where will the food fit in? If the biggest problem with brunchstagrams is that you can’t smell or taste them, can the metaverse solve that problem? While you can’t physically eat a meal online – yet – early restaurant-related metaverse projects show how food has always been more than just literal consumption. As the foundations are built, people are forming real-world relationships through blockchain-enabled supper clubs, investing in food and beverage companies through NFTs, and more.

In one corner of the developing metaverse, cryptocurrency is being used to support beverage producers. Wiva Norwegian NFT wine company, works with wineries in Europe to sell NFTs that correspond to specific vintages. (Most cost just over 0.1 Ethereum, or around $300.) Purchasing the NFT gives you access to an authenticated bottle of wine that is securely stored and can be redeemed as it ages. Wiv is also setting up metaverse pop-ups to take consumers on virtual wine tours, where they can learn more about the winemaking process.

Wiv Founder and CEO Tommy Nordam Jensen sees the process as an alternative type of financing for winemakers. Because building a wine business takes years, from growing the grapes to selling the bottle, winemakers find it difficult to get loans from banks, which are needed to improve wine quality, says Jensen. at Bustle. Tokens solve this problem by selling vintages in advance, giving partners the money to produce great wines (and giving buyers an easy way to trade their investment without having the physical asset in hand). ). For consumers, it’s a splurge you can only do on special occasions, like buying a bottle of champagne to open on your 30th birthday.

Other foodverse projects aren’t about securing the bag, but building community. DAO Dinner uses NFTs to host in-person supper clubs in different cities. (DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization, a cooperative democratically run and funded by member token purchases.) Founders Austin Robey and Gabrielle Micheletti connected on Twitter in the summer of 2021 and decided they wanted to do “crypto/web3/more friendly tech world” through dinner parties, Micheletti tells Bustle. Case in point: they use Comic Sans on Dinner DAO’s Promotional material to keep the atmosphere accessible.

The group has five DAOs, two in New York, two in Los Angeles and one in Portland, Oregon. To join, people buy a season pass token for around $300 from Ethereum, which goes into the group’s treasury and funds dinner parties over the course of three months. Eight members join a token-enabled Discord channel and vote on dining options.

Portland’s first dinner was a vegan meal served in the rain – the group sat outside due to COVID precautions. “I don’t remember a single bite, but a few neat projects and collaborations [like hackathons] came out of it,” says Amber Casean anthropologist who petitioned to start the Portland DAO after hearing about the project on Twitter. “It was just great to meet new people.”

DAO dinner contrasts with expensive NFT dinner clubs that sell out instantly, like Resy founder-turned-crypto kingpin Gary Vaynerchuk. Fly fishing club – consider $7,900 for access to a private lounge and restaurant, with food sold separately. Part of his mission is to show people how easy it is to set up a community-focused web3 project in their city. Other DAOs, like Cryptographic Packaged Goodsuse this same framework to launch products like chocolate and green juice developed collectively by the group. Proponents say DAOs could eventually serve as an alternative ownership structure for restaurants or brands, allowing everyday consumers to have a decision-making role in the products they buy. (A seat at the table, if you will.)

“A virtual experience does not make a metaverse.”

Andrea Hernandez, founder of Snaxshot, a food and beverage forecasting consultancy and newsletter, is a fan of how Dinner DAO works, as it addresses many of the issues involved in starting a dinner club. (Anyone who tried to split the bill after someone’s birthday dinner—where two people didn’t drink and only one ordered an appetizer—gets it.) That said, Hernández warns that we’re still in the early days of the Metaverse. , and “brands are simply exploring what can be done. She hails projects that incorporate real-world experiences into their virtual offerings as better options for consumers, pointing to Burger King’s November campaign to include a discount for a Burger IRL with its NFTs. “A virtual experience does not make a metaverse,” she warns.

OneRare founder Supreet Raju, who has worked in the blockchain industry since 2017, echoes Hernández. “I don’t believe virtual life can replace your real life. It’s not healthy and it’s something we’re actively discussing with partner restaurants,” she told Bustle. The metaverse also needs to be more than a get-rich-quick scheme: OneRare “isn’t a one-time NFT drop,” says Raju, “it’s a holistic foodverse with an evolving concept,” meaning players are meant to stick with it engage beyond the purchase of a single NFT. Raju believes that all blockchain projects should prioritize community building to some degree – fighting hunger is an important OneRare mission, for example .

These nascent foodverse projects understand that fully online experiences can’t replace hosting a dinner party or sharing a bottle of wine — especially since digital simulations of smell and taste are a far from ordinary. Instead, the future of food in the metaverse means tapping into the core of what makes food great: building connections and community. You will only need to bring your own snacks.

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