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.


More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association has made public the 2018 recipients of its annual Silver Plate awards.

The nine winners—each of whom was given the top prize in their respective foodservice segment—include four well-known names in noncommercial:

Healthcare: Jim McGrody , director of culinary and nutrition services at UNC Rex Healthcare in Raleigh, N.C. C&U: Dennis Pierce , executive director of dining services at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. B&I: Michiel Bakker , director of global food services for Google K-12: Ken Yant,...
Industry News & Opinion

Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary in Brunswick, Maine, is hosting a mentorship program that brings in local community members to have lunch with second-graders twice a week, The Forecaster reports.

The program is aimed to foster conversation between the students and area adults, and staff say they are happy to have the extra adult supervision during lunch and recess.

Officials would like to find more volunteers to expand the program to the third, fourth and fifth grades in the future.

Read the full story via .

Ideas and Innovation
buying small

Here’s a stunner for noncommercial operators who work with one big supplier: Smith College buys food from more than 50 different suppliers. And only three of those suppliers sell Smith more than 3% of its food. “We know boutique,” says Andy Cox, director of Dining Services at the Northampton, Mass., school. “There are ways to make it work.”

Adding to Smith’s challenges: Dining Services has 12 kitchens and no central receiving, and works to ensure that 20% of its food is fair, local, humane and/or ecologically sound.

Teamwork between a food buyer and financial systems...

Industry News & Opinion

Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., is celebrating National Nutrition Month by offering free weekly samples of plant-based items , as well as hosting produce-centric events around campus, the Indiana Daily Student reports.

Every Wednesday this month, students will be able to sample such dishes as vegetable vindaloo, lemon-herb quinoa salad, and pistachio and apricot couscous. Some of the items featured have been offered previously on campus, while others are new recipes.

The university has also partnered with a culinary training organization to launch two plant-based...

FSD Resources