Dry ingredients are being used as edible ink to “print” foods like chocolate and pasta, as just one of the far-out developments emerging from food-related experimentation; others include “in-vitro meat” and a plant that grows both tomatoes and potatoes.
A report by ABC News on “Five Trends of the Future That Are Already Here” highlighted these developments from food-related technological experimentation:
- Several companies are already experimenting with using three-dimensional printing technology to “print” foods like chocolate and pasta, by mixing together one or two dry ingredients to use as a sort of edible ink. One new device, the “Foodini,” takes 3-D food printing a leap forward, ABC News reported, by using stainless-steel capsules packed with fresh edible elements that it then “prints” out into a wide variety of dishes, including everything from juicy burgers to tasty dips to luscious desserts.
Right now, the Foodini only prints up the precooked version of a meal and it then has to be cooked, ABC News reported. But future models will have the ability to print up exactly what consumers crave, fully cooked and ready to eat.
Scientists hope 3D-printed edibles have the potential to revolutionize space travel, ABC News reported. NASA has awarded a Small Business Innovation Research contract to Systems and Materials Research Consultancy, based in Austin, Texas, to study the possibility of printing food for space travel.
This would help to solve the long-standing problem of how to feed astronauts after a long flight to say, Mars. It could be that the first humans to set foot on the red planet would celebrate by printing up a cake, ABC News suggested.
- Earlier this year, Dutch scientists grew hamburger from the muscle tissue of a cow and invited journalists into the lab for a taste test, ABC News reported. Reviews were mixed, but the science behind lab-grown meat is still in the embryonic stage. If perfected, it could end the suffering of farm animals and help fight world hunger, ABC News noted.
Beyond the yuck factor, cost and time are also major stumbling blocks for the technology. The test-tube burger took two years and $325,000 to create, ABC News reported.
Undeterred, however, the Next Nature Foundation posted the In-Vitro Meat Cookbook on the fundraising site Indiegogo. Among the questions the cookbook hopes to answer, ABC News reported, would be the one of “Is lab-grown meat kosher?”
- What would you call a plant that grows tomatoes up top and potatoes down below? A pomato? A tompato? The breeder of just such a plant, British seed catalog Thompson & Morgan, has settled on the name TomTato, ABC News reported.
The multitasking plant is not genetically engineered in the modern sense of the word. Instead, it’s a hybrid made by grafting the two plants together, the cataloger explained in a statement.
Normally, this is a difficult horticultural feat to pull off, but it’s possible in this case because the tomato and potato are closely related and share enough genetic traits to happily cohabitate on the same stem, ABC News reported.
The ketchup-and-fries potted plant will only be sold in the U.K. for now. It’s an annual, which means growers must buy new seedlings every year. A similar plant called the Potato Tom is available in New Zealand.
- Molecular Gastronomy is another culinary trend that borrows techniques from the science lab. By cooking with a pinch of physics and a dash of chemistry, chefs can transform the tastes and textures of food, ABC News reported.
For example, apple caviar can be whipped up by using a method called basic spherification. This involves submerging apple juice that has been mixed with the chemical sodium alginate into a bath of calcium to form a sphere. The juice transforms into tiny balls with thin, barely detectable membranes that burst in one’s mouth like fish eggs when it’s bitten into.
Molecular gastronomy has led to some pretty interesting ideas, ABC News noted. For example, one scientist has whipped up a kind of water bottle that surrounds the water with an edible bubble. Once perfected, it could eliminate the waste from plastic water bottles.
- Rob Rhinehart, the Chief Operating Officer of Soylent, notes that many people find food preparation boring and expensive, ABC News reported. His answer is his company’s 33-ingredient, grayish-colored liquid supplement designed to provide all the essential nutrients. And it can be customized for preferences, allergies and disease management.
It’s possible to subsist on Soylent exclusively, Rhinehart said, but most of the testers who tried it drank it for breakfast and lunch, then had a regular meal for dinner. Because it is classified as a supplement rather than food, it is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The company has 1.5 million pre-orders, and the product ships in January, ABC News reported.
Because production is relatively inexpensive and scalable, Rhinehart said, Soylent is more than just a convenience; it has the potential to help solve the food crisis in the developing world.
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