Io9 did a round up the other day, of 3D printer food.
There’s a number of the usual suspects, like pizza and sugar confectionery, which vary from quick and basic to works of art. It’s a great list, of work by people who are making the most of this fascinating new technology.
I’d like to pick out two of their entries. The first, a chocolatier in South Africa who built his own 8 head chocolate printer twenty years ago. He was thinking of moving on because there wasn’t a huge market for bespoke 3D printed chocolate. Now he’s getting a bit of exposure, that may change. We may end up with a global chocolate competition annually.
If you pop over to the African site, another thing you’ll notice is the amount of news articles relating to 3D printing. This comes up every time I write one of these, but in the West we really aren’t aware of the filtering of our media. We’re being left in the dark ages by developing nations who have no qualms about using technology regardless of whether it suits the fossil fuels lobby or Uncle Sam’s stranglehold on global finance. We need to get with the program, stat!
Back to the intro image, Chloe Rutzerveld has been working on this from a different angle. Chloe’s aim is to print something that changes, rather than rearranging sugar and chocolate.
My aim was to use this new food technology in a useful way to create natural, healthy, sustainable and nutrient rich food that can not be made with traditional production methods and contributes to our and the environments wellbeing. With Edible Growth a lot of unnecessary stages of the food chain disappear with as result a reduction of food waste, food miles and Co2 emission.
Which is the great selling point of 3D printer tech. Quick manufacture, custom design, no shipping. As with the little ball in the gif, the thing grows from yeast, spores and seeds. Combined with a shipping container or two rigged for solar and rainwater catchment, you could have a gourmet cracker factory in your backyard. Or make the containers available to the Military, who can get them where-ever they’re needed, virtually overnight. This would be an enormous bonus in areas affected by natural disasters. Think how quickly we could solve the hunger problem globally?
They’d be great little experiments for kids, too, growing in a window sill. How many varieties of edible fungus are there? You could sample as many as you want by choosing the spores, which would be available at your local community centre, and adding them to the template that would provide a base of your choice, together with sprouts if you wanted them.
Now I have a daydream about a few retired women who run these things in boarding houses, making quick, healthy food available to legions of hikikomori who spend their time developing game apps and automating all the housework with cobbled together robots.