Data-driven food?

Published in FSD Update

Is 3D printing really the answer to the world's food problems?

I read something a couple of weeks ago that disturbed me. Scientists are experimenting with the concept of “printing” food, using 3D printing technology. The Fab@Home Lab, at Cornell University, is testing the idea of fabricating food on a large scale. The National Aeronautics & Space Administration recently awarded a $125,000 grant to an Austin, Texas company to examine how to use the technology to create nutritious food for astronauts flying deep space missions.

According to an article that appeared on HuffingtonPost.com, Jeffrey Lipton, chief technology officer for a company called Seraph Robotics, posits that not only is the “printing” of food possible, it could be done in such a way that each order could be altered to satisfy the unique dietary needs of particular customers—the ultimate in customization.

Speaking at the Inside 3D Printing conference last month in New York, Lipton reportedly said, “Once you have the automatic collection of what you’re eating and when, you can predict, based off your activity levels, your planned diet and your health records, exactly how much and what types of food you should be eating. That’s really ultimately the long-term potential of food printing.”

NASA’s long-range perspective is to come up with a way to keep astronauts fed on missions that could take years to complete. In a press release, NASA said, “The current food system wouldn’t meet the nutritional needs and five-year shelf life required for a mission to Mars or other long duration missions. Because refrigeration and freezing require significant spacecraft resources, current NASA provisions consist solely of individually packaged shelf stable foods, processed with technologies that degrade the micronutrients in the foods.”

The goal of the NASA project is to determine whether a 3D food printing system would be able to provide a wide variety of shelf-stable items that would retain their nutritional integrity. According to an article on SPACE.com, mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor has printed chocolate and is working on the printing of—you got it—a pizza.

Keywords: 
technology

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
food symbols allergens

To make safe food as accessible as possible for our guests with allergies, we are creating an allergen-friendly kitchen this summer. Students and community members will be able to use our mobile app to place orders for allergen-friendly food and pick them up at the central kitchen. The kitchen will also produce grab-and-go options that will be distributed across campus.

Ideas and Innovation
construction plans drawing tools calculator

When revamping an old cafeteria or building a new retail spot, the design process can feel like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle: What needs to fit in the space, and what’s the most efficient flow for staffers, cooks, diners and more?

Cathy Estes, administrative director of nutrition services at four northern Indiana hospitals that are part of the Franciscan Health network, faced the creation of a new in-house dining program at Franciscan’s Munster hospital. Amid all the big plans, design was one of the largest undertakings.

“I was looking at 5,000 square feet on a...

Ideas and Innovation
amazon prime delivery

About 90% of our students receive financial assistance and participate in our free and reduced-price meal program. But a number of students in our district study remotely due to circumstances such as chronic illness. In January, we hired a driver to deliver meals to students who aren’t able to step into our cafeteria each day.

Ideas and Innovation
wheaton emerson int salad bar

Restaurant design is all about catching a customer’s eye —and it’s sometimes particularly beneficial to be far-sighted. As Airbnb has proven with its San Francisco headquarters, where cafe spaces are inspired by cities like Cairo and Mumbai, elaborate design schemes that evoke far-flung geographic regions can be done to great effect. But operators are finding simpler ways to achieve that feel.

That’s been the experience of Kutztown University Dining Services in Pennsylvania. Kent Dahlquist, director of housing and dining services, says that when the university decided several years...

FSD Resources