3D printing: the future of food production?
3D printing is becoming more and more popular. We are now able to print things such as clothing, prosthetic limbs, musical instruments and prototype cars. People and businesses are able to create the things they need very quickly and easily using 3D printers.
But can you imagine printing food? Some scientists are trying to revolutionise the dining experience by doing this. They hope that having a 3D printer in the kitchen will become as commonplace as the microwave or blender. Scientists say that they are easy to use: you simply have to select a recipe and put the raw food 'inks' into the printer. You can also modify the instructions to make the food exactly how you want it. This means that it would be very quick and easy to create tasty and nutritious meals.
Using 3D printers to create your meals would also be saving the environment. There would be less need for traditional growing, transporting and packaging processes as food production would be a lot more efficient. For example, alternative ingredients such as proteins from algae, beetroot leaves and insects could be converted into tasty products!
Printing food could also help people who suffer from dysphasia (a swallowing disorder). They could program the printer to print softer versions of their favourite foods so that they would not have trouble swallowing them.
However, some people think that a future of 3D-printed food would be a disaster. It could take away many jobs, including those for growing, transporting and packaging food. Imagine a world where there was no need for farming or growing crops and the same tastes and textures could be printed from a raw 'food ink'. Likewise, traditional cafés and restaurants might lose business. Also, there are concerns about the nutritional value of printed food: is it really possible to get the nutrients we need from food-based inks and gels?
What’s more, cooking and eating together with family and friends has long been a traditional and enjoyable activity. It is hard to imagine a world where the pastime of cooking is dead and meals can be created at the touch of a button.