Data-driven food?

Published in FSD Update

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

Understand that I am not decrying 3D printing. It is fascinating technology and, as the NASA article pointed out, it could be used to allow astronauts to create parts for spacecraft or even planetary structures such as living quarters. And visions of the future have always intrigued me. As a child, I read science fiction books by the shelf and watched every sci-fi move and show that would come on our TV: "Lost In Space," "Star Trek," even "The Jetsons." I would be awed at all the technology available in the “future” and thought how neat most of that stuff would be to have.

But when it came to food stations, I was simply bemused. The idea of food devolving into vitamin pills and freeze-dried, extruded meals made me sad. To me, food has always been something to be celebrated, and how could anyone get excited about a three-course meal in pill form?

Over time, we have seen many of those fantastic sci-fi gadgets and systems become part of our everyday lives. For the most part, technological advances have made our lives easier. Quite often, however, they have come with a price. Cell phones have made communications easier, but to an annoying degree. Social media have helped connect people all over the world, but with a consequent loss of privacy.

Food would be no different. All of our efforts to promote a local and sustainable lifestyle would come to nothing if the world embraces what Jeffrey Lipton calls “data-driven food.” We might create a more efficient way to sustain human beings, but at the same time we’d be removing from their lives one of life’s quintessential joys.

The good news, at least for my generation, is that this technology will likely not be widely available until after we’ve passed on. I know one thing: I’m not ready for technology that would allow the menu and the meal to become one and the same.

Keywords: 
technology

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Risley Dining Room at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has just become 100 percent gluten-free, 14850.com reports.

For the past two years, the university has slowly phased out gluten in the dining hall’s menu by eliminating it in its stir fries, biscuits and brownies.

Instead of offering gluten-free versions of typical college fare, including pizza and pasta, the dining service team aimed for more sophisticated restaurant-style items.

Along with being gluten-free, Risley is also peanut free and tree-nut free.

The dining room is the second college eatery...

Industry News & Opinion

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., recently hosted a weeklong program called Weigh the Waste, which aimed to show students how much food gets wasted in dining halls, The Breeze reports.

Throughout the week, students placed food they were about to throw away on a scale located near the trash bins at one of their dining halls. At the end of the week, the school tallied the waste and saw that 817 pounds of food had been wasted.

School officials hope that the annual program, which it’s hosted since 2015, will remind dining hall patrons to only take as much food as...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Menu Development
salad chicken

Vegetables and grains have stepped into the spotlight, thanks to the “flipping the plate” trend, but protein is still an important part of a balanced diet. Sources including meat, cheese, nuts, and meat alternatives such as tofu and tempeh can and should still be on the plate—albeit as a side dish or topping rather than the main event.

“Whatever we do [as FSDs] needs to be rooted in the culture, and today’s culture is all about healthy eating and plant-focused meals,” says Chris Studtmann, executive chef at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “A recipe is an idea; culture is...

FSD Resources