The phrase has always been from farm to fork but it could soon be, from printer to fork! Yes…
Recently, a fleeting video on a WhatsApp post caught my attention. It was explaining the printing of meat using 3D technology.
3D-printed meat! I was shocked!
The speed at which technology is moving is mindboggling. It’s not just about communication or invisible things anymore; it has moved right to our tables.
Of course, I had heard about it before, but I had not seen the creation. I never knew what to think about 3D printing or bothered to check it out. But I was really shocked to realise that the printing is done literally. There are ingredients that are mixed by the 3D printer, which then prints out the meat as you watch.
It’s a scenario, where instead of chefs wielding pans, they wield printers from which vibrant and delightful flavours emerge.
Upon further research, I learnt that 3D printing of food uses 3D printers to create edible objects. This involves the use of edible materials such as dough, chocolate, and sugar, which are layered to create intricate shapes and designs.
With 3D you can bid farewell to one-size-fits-all meals because the technology allows users to create their own visually appealing food tailored to individual tastes and dietary needs. Vegan, gluten-free, or low-sodium? No problem! These printers can weave flavours and textures to align with a person’s preferences and nutritional requirements.
The benefits of 3D printing food include automation, precise ingredient control, creativity, and customisable foods.
By optimising ingredient usage and minimising waste, this technology champions eco-friendly dining. With precision layering, it ensures that every piece is purposefully placed, reducing excess and conserving resources.
Some hope that the technology will also pave the way for meals that cater for specific medical conditions. Patients with swallowing difficulties or those requiring specialised diets should then be able to enjoy dishes tailored to their needs, thus providing nourishment and enjoyment.
With its ability to create food items in resource-challenged regions and reduce transportation costs, it is believed 3D technology has the potential to transform global food security — from remote villages to disaster-stricken areas.
In the United States, the Department of Defence has been working to develop 3D-printed MREs (Meals Ready-to Eat) that in the future could be paired with wearable sensors to meet soldiers’ nutritional needs. NASA has also been experimenting with 3D-printed food for astronauts on long missions.
According to a report by MarketWatch, the global 3D food-printing market is expected to rise at a considerable rate between 2022 and 2030. The report also states that the market is growing at a steady rate and with the rising adoption of strategies by key players, it is expected to reach new heights.
Spain’s Plat Institute in Barcelona is at the forefront of exploring innovative approaches to food creation using 3D printing technology.
There are many exciting projects happening in the world of 3D printed food. A pop-up restaurant called Food Ink was launched in London in 2016, which brought 3D-printed food to the United Kingdom. The restaurant used a range of 3D printers to create dishes such as edible chocolate sculptures and intricate pasta shapes.
However, there are also some disadvantages to 3D printing food. One is that the technology is still in its early stages and is not yet widely available. Additionally, the cost of 3D printers and materials can be high, which makes it difficult for many people to access the technology.
From Smartfarmer Magazine Edition 54
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