“…rather than farm to table, think of it as pixels to plate.”
Three dimensional (3D) food printing could help solve a wide variety of societal problems, from bumping up nutritional density of snacks and meals to offering better tasting options to astronauts headed into outer space. No more gross dehydrated and reconstituted meat or ice cream bars.
In the interest of using 3D printing for the mass-production of healthier foods, the Netherlands Organizations for Applied Scientific Research in Germany, experimented with the use of microalgae in place of gels and gums that often hold our processed foods together. Microalgae is an organic source of protein, antioxidants and carbohydrates. One experimenter used mealworms in a shortbread cookie recipe, which apparently did not taste as repulsive as it sounds.
The market is there. The company BeeHex, a designer of 3D printed food templates and devices, currently has a contract with NASA and the U.S. Army. One project under development is a personalized nutrition machine, which aggregates a person’s height, weight, age, health analyses and/or DNA data, and then analyzes the information to determine which ingredients to use in a nutrition bar, or a snack.
Several years ago, COO and Co-Founder of Natural Machines, Lynette Kucsma, predicted that smartwatches will be able to calculate how many calories a person has recently burned, how low they are on certain vitamins or minerals, and that the watch will then sync up with a 3D printer with the capability to produce an ideal recipe for an individual. While we’re not quite there yet, as of the present writing, the prospect is appealing and will change the way that we think about our diets, our time and IOT.
For more about the future of food, listen to this Forbes podcast.