Future of Food?

This post is rather different from one’s I’ve written before. I wanted to share something I found interesting from the New York Times. So the future of food. What could that ever mean?

3-D printing food.

Photo From NY TImes. Pizza being made.

Photo From NY Times. Pizza being made.

What is a 3-D printer? I’m no fancy engineering genius but I’ve seen one, when I worked at the Fab Lab during a Digital Arts at Dartmouth.

There, I helped people who came in to try out the Arduino, which allowed people to use coding to create art. The professor demonstrated to us how he could make sound and even flash lights. A lot of children came in and I was surprised by their interest. Some of them had previous experience with their parents. It’s great to know they’re getting this type of exposure to coding. I wish I had tried coding earlier on. I only just took an Introduction of Computer Science class my spring term.

Photo from Arduino Team

Photo from Arduino Team

While at the Fab Lab, during the last day, some people from the Dartmouth Thayer School of Engineering demonstrated their 3-D printing. I remember someone had made 2 light sabers, which actually lit up and made sounds when they made contact with each other! I also saw the examples, such as a sphere made from gears that could move, but still maintain the spherical shape. There were other small, very elaborate and detailed, pieces on display. It was insane that the 3-D printing created all this, layer by layer.

So when I came across this article from the New York Times, written by A. J. Jacobs, I was really interested. He had an entire dinner created with a 3-D printer, from the food to the plates to even his tie! I knew that objects could be designed on the computer with plastic, but I didn’t know that food could also be “printed.” The food pastes shown below are literally entire food condensed into paste. I guess you would have to make the food first before pushing it through the printer and getting elaborate shapes.

Photo from NY Times. Food paste ready to be printed. Think of it like ink!

Photo from NY Times. Food paste ready to be printed. Think of it as ink!

The eating utensils and plates were all printed by 3-D printers. You can make such elaborate shapes. During this dinner, the utensils were inspired by Italy.

For dinner, they had a pizza in the shape of… Italy. Obviously, this was a very Italy-inspired dinner. The pizza was made in the correct topographical scaling. Unfortunately, when heated in the oven, a modest unit for heating when compared to the 3-D printer, it expanded.

Photo from NY Times

Photo from NY Times

The 3-D printer has the potential to combine any food. In this case, dinner was served with an eggplant and squash concoction. Unfortunately, its texture was odd. Maybe some food combinations are supposed to never happen.

Photo from NY Times. Tie made by 3-D printing!

Photo from NY Times. Tie made by 3-D printing!

Pasta was created in the shape of their initials. Think about it, food in cool shapes! I bet Instagram would be overflowing with food pictures if that were to happen. Maybe you can eat chicken in the shape of a dinosaur, a nod to its ancestor.

Photo from NY Times

Photo from NY Times

Panna cotta was also made into their initials. What a romantic dinner…

This definitely sounds interesting. Probably a phenomenon I would rather enjoy in a restaurant once in awhile. But I think food should have an element of being made by hand, rather than by machine. When making the scallion pancakes or crepes, I liked the element of using my hands. I had to make the doll and roll it out. For the crepes, I had to rotate my wrists to spread the crepe dough and then flip it. I had to put in the effort. For 3-D printing, people will probably download pre-made designs. The author wasn’t able to design usable eating utensils. His cup actually leaked. If 3-D printing becomes a mainstream thing, then I’m sure it would print out a lot faster than it does now. Food will just be something you press a button for, kind of like a vending machine. Putting the time in to make the food with your bare hands brings a satisfaction that a machine cannot give you.

But I can’t deny the appeal of eating pumpkin pie in the shape of my name. I’m mentioning pumpkin pie because I’m sad I can’t enjoy it since I’m in China during the fall. I wonder if the Starbucks in China sells pumpkin spiced latte…

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