3D Printing of Food: Boon or Bane?
* Photo credit: copyright of Chloe Rutzerveld and the Edible Growth Project.
President Obama recently praised 3 Printing technologies which have been used to make everything from guitars, to guns to living tissue and heart valves. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before someone extended the technology to gourmet foods. Enter Chloe Rutzerveld on the scene. Chloe is a freelance food designer who graduated from the Eindhoven University of Technology, Holland. She has been working on the Edible Growth Project.
Says Chloe: “The intention of this project is to show that gourmet food can be grown in a lab. Such high tech food need not be unhealthy nor unpalatable. Edible Growth has produced delicious, natural, nutritious and most importantly sustainable food. The process uses natural phenomenon like fermentation and photosynthesis. We believe this technology can help overcome our dependence on natural resources and even help overcome world hunger.”
Here is our take on 3D printed lab grown food:
- You can get personalized food in the form of texture, ingredients, flavors, shapes and color.
- You can create tasty nutritious food from sources like Algae, beet leaf, insects, grass and lupine seeds.
- You can conveniently print the food fresh and with innovative textures, flavors and shapes using natural processes.
- Innovative shapes, textures etc gives you freedom to produce and develop new dishes, and new concepts.
- 3D printing promotes sustainability. One can print only what is needed avoiding printing of excess or unsold food. Could be a long term solution to end World Hunger.
- Currently the technology is still new. So, printing food is a slow process. Mass production of food could take several hours, weeks, days or months.
- Even if speeds increase, other factors like how fast the plastic/ingredients used harden will vary on the materials being used.
- If you want something twice as big as what is available currently, the cost would also likely be 3-4 times higher.
- Most 3-D printers can work with only one material at a time.
- Energy used by the 3D printers is high. Depending on what is being printed, the electricity usage can be 100 times higher than conventional printing.
- There may be many other environmental impacts we would know about until the technology has been thoroughly evaluated and tested well.
- Cleaning and other maintenance of the printers may be difficult.
- Home users of the printers will also need to be trained in using the printer first.
- All said and done, it still feels we are going against nature and Mother Earth. There may be rippling effects one is not aware of until much later.
Love it or hate it? Let us know in comments below!