Food & Technology

NASA Gives Grant to Create 3-D Food Printer

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Tue, May 21, 2013 at 10:32 AM
click to enlarge 3-D printer at work. Soon they may be printing food. - DEVOPSTOM VIA FLICKR

The future very rarely produces what we expect it to, or what we are lead to believe it might produce by science fiction writers. Where are the flying cars? The teleporters? But instant, from-the-ether food might be on its way (a-la Star Trek's replicator or the Jetson's food machine), thanks to a company called Systems & Materials Research Corporation, which is developing a food printer or "universal food synthesizer." And Quartz is reporting that NASA just gave the company a $125,000 grant to create a prototype.

To those of us invested in the art and comfort of cooking, this sounds highly suspect, but the intention of the 3-D food printer is in fact to end world hunger, or so the developers say. Still, the entire thing sounds creepy. From Quartz:

He [developer Anjan Contractor] sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth's 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor's vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.

Try selling that version of the future to your local Slow Food chapter.

The developer plans to begin with pizza printing. Watch a video of chocolate printing below, which looks very much like a lot of effort to replicate a version of a pastry tube.

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