3D Food Printers Are Here…

Imagine a printer that has, instead of toner cartridges, food cartridges.  And these printers are able to “print” 3D food with lasers that “cook” the food, pixel by pixel to the precise temperature.  Well, they’re real.  They’re here.  This has been the topic of conversation in the kitchen for a couple months now.  I seem to be the only one that says “Cool…  Bring it on!”  My attitude seems to be in the minority.  Mostly, others say “ewww….” or, “can’t imagine that food tasting good at all!”  Yeah, yeah…  This technology is in it’s infantcy.  It needs to be developed.  Remember, fast food has long been considered sub-standard or poor quality, tasteless.  Yet people continue to go.  McDonald’s advertises “Billions and Billions Served”   I’m a 4 star chef who has been through a drive thru once or twice in my day.  Here are some possibilities to ponder:

We are great at producing food.  We have become very efficient.  The problem is, by the time the produced food is sold to the end user, much of it has been thrown away due to waste, spoilage, mishandling, etc…  Much food expires before it’s sold.  Thrown away.  With this technology, the food can be preserved onsite or nearby and made into these cartridges offering 100% utilization with a 25 year+ shelf life.  Eww??  Maybe.  We’ll see.  Let’s ponder further:

Imagine a disaster happening where people are cut off from food supplies due to some natural or man made disaster.  These printers could be brought to these areas and people could “print” food to keep from starving.  These printers could also be used to prevent 3rd world hunger and starvation.  But wait, let’s ponder further:

Imagine an ATM that “Prints food”.  You walk or drive up and punch in your order.  It’s printed on the spot and cooked at the same time so it’s fresh.  Imagine that.  Would it taste good?  A printed Big Mac and fries?  Time will tell.  I would imagine the price of this food would be drastically reduced because you don’t have to warehouse all this perishable food until it’s ordered, shipped and stored ready to be cooked.  Nor do you have to pay cooks or cashiers.   I don’t think it would REPLACE any leg of food service from gourmet dining to fast food.  I just think it would create another tier of food service.  But let’s ponder this further:

You’re at the drive through and swipe your payment card and place your order.  What if your card was linked to your physician?  Or perhaps your health records?  Perhaps you’re on a reduced sodium diet, low sugar, wheat free, gluten free, allergies…  Your food could be printed with your dietary needs already factored in.  High cholesterol?  Your food will be printed with ingredients that would be beneficial.   Man, this could change everything.  Computer programmers would be the next level of chefs.

Don’t think it could happen?  I wouldn’t be surprised if this was reality in the next 10-20 years.  Here’s a link to an article that has some great info and photos.  Dig it.  No more world hunger, diabetes, obesity, or many other food related illnesses.  Seriously?  Yeah.  This is the type of thing that the President says we should be working toward to win the future.

http://inhabitat.com/mits-digital-food-printer-creates-nutritious-meals/

http://www.nextnature.net/2010/05/nano-product-the-food-printer/

http://www.cartridgenews.com/philips-designs-3d-food-printer/?p=01426

http://web.media.mit.edu/~amitz/Amit_Zoran_home_page/Cornucopia.html

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