Just th-ink about this….Print your food?

  • 04/05/11
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Print your menu…..literally – by Richard Miller (Fife Diet’s new Membership Development guy)

Attention all Star Trek foodie fans, humanity has boldly taken one step closer to having a replicator fitted into a kitchen near you! The recent craze of gastro-cuisine may soon have a new weapon of mass production – The 3D food printer – allowing the ingredient-shy to print their own food.

This technological wonder reflects a rather odd trend in the production (formally known as preparation) of the food that people eat. It seems that using your hands and whole ingredients could become rather redundant, perhaps even an “uncivilised” technique in creating food. The food industry, like any other, is prone to having trends comes and go; however the concept of printing our food seems to stand out as technological upping of “the game”.

To what game do I refer? The game of food-opoly of course! Where one side is trying to distance people from their food, and the other is trying to bring people closer to their food. From my observations (and please, share your comments below) it feels as though it is the duty of some industries (the gastric empire) to bring the traditional skills of food production to the brink of extinction, and then provide a tasty, nutritious-ish, cheaply priced quick fix to our hungry eyes and bellies. On the other side of the board there would be the food Jedi, people ready to suffer culinary penance to hold the title of food-nobility, being proud to be right, and scornful of the evils of everyday people. I find myself reluctant to closely associate myself with either conceptual extreme. I do however value taking responsibility for my consumption and the carbon emissions which are generated to keep me alive and well fed in today’s consumer society.

As you may have picked up so far, I am perhaps unable to hide my scepticism of the concept of a 3D food printer. However, my concern stretches over an even broader issue of concern. As we continue to develop food “technology” are we at risk of divorcing our intimate relationship with our food? What is this “future” of food like, where technology provides us with nourishment? The worst images I envisage involve food served with clinical precision by robots, mass IV drips, and food being emailed to your printer. Basically, the further the ideas get from people actually making food, the more appealing, and appalling they seem to me.

Here’s one of my personal favourites. I’m glad such ideas exist to help dust off my moral outrage.

I have a slightly different vision of the future of food, and as I get stuck into living the Fife Diet, a lot of my preconceptions of food are being challenged. I am starting to grasp what our contemporary and largely unspoken food myths are (a subject I will explore throughout the coming year) and what maladaptive coping mechanisms we have built for ourselves.

Here at the Fife diet I am excitedly preparing for the challenge of recruiting more members to participate in a carbon reduction focussed, locally grown diet here in Fife. I find the depth of pragmatism really quite inspiring, and I look forward to meeting new people who are in the process of redefining their eating habits.

I’ll personally enjoy finding out about the technological wonders (and horrors) which will crop up during this century. It is my hope that as our relationship with technology becomes closer, that this is not at the cost of distancing our relationship with our food. Our ecology, mother nature, is the most hi-tech thing I’ve seen so far in my life – perhaps progress in food is simplicity.

Please feel warmly encouraged to share your thoughts, and if you have any, share some links of modern horrors/wondering of cooking technology!