By Rachel Cernansky, Planet Green
The chefs on Future Food are changing our relationship with food, but they’re not the only ones working on crazy inventions in food technology. Here’s a look at a few other ideas that are already becoming a reality.
3D food printer. A bit more of an unexpected way to deliver food, and a little mind-numbing, is “The Cornucopia,” a machine developed by a team at MIT that literally prints food. The printer contains canisters with foods and flavors–think ink cartridges with edible ingredients–and uses a rapid heating and cooling chamber to create a unique combination of flavors and textures.
Space plants. You’ve probably heard of hydroponics–and more recently aquaponics–but aeroponics takes efficiency in food-growing to a whole new level by growing plants suspended in mid-air using only water and a nutrient-laden mist. Although it is less forgiving than hydroponics, since plants grown using aeroponics need a precise nutrient-water balance, it is far more efficient: the method uses up to 90 percent less water, 60 percent less fertilizer, and 100 percent less pesticides than conventional cultivation, and allows plants to capture carbon dioxide and oxygen more effectively.
Next: A step beyond vending machines, and food that can heat itself…
The Automat, a closer-to-real-food equivalent of vending machines, reached its peak popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, which seems like it was kind of ahead of its time in terms of technology and the ever-growing demand for convenience in food that we tend to associate with the last two or three decades. The machine faded with the rise of fast food, but it’s making a (small) comeback in New York City.
Heatables: self-heating food packaging. It sounds pretty weird, and Tempra Technology, the company behind the product, hasn’t released much information about how it works. But it exists: packaging that can heat food–of any sort, including soups, coffee/tea, pasta, snacks–to its ideal serving temperature in minutes, without a separate heating appliance. (Just hope it’s not made of plastic.)
The can that cools itself: also from Tempra Technology, the I.C. Can is designed with a self-cooling device to reduce the temperature of its contents by at least 30 degrees in three minutes. The can contains a vacuum, which houses a desiccant that when activated, draws heat from the beverage through the evaporator and into an insulated heat-sink container. That drops the temperature, and voila, your beer is chilled–no ice, no fridge, just a cold drink.
Are you anxious to try any of these futuristic food inventions?