Looks like a good day for alternative food news. This one is a little less soylent green but a little more dystopian in nature. Anjan Contractor has recently been awarded a NASA grant to develop a 3d printer capable of printing food.
The basic idea seems to be to build a 3d printer that, instead of using plastics, uses food powders consisting of various nutritional elements to make edible… substances. Carpenter describes "printing” a pizza, mixing powders with water and oil to make the tomato sauce, and cooking the dough of the base as it is laid down.
It’s an interesting idea and given the long life-span of the powders used (30+ years on the shelf) NASA is understandably interested in the possibility of using this technology for long-term space missions, such as any mission to a more distant planetoid in the system than the moon. Carpenter however is even more ambitious than that. Environmentalists and welfare advocates have been warning us for years now that the current problems with world hunger is only going to get worse as our world population grows. Using our current farming techniques, it does seem infeasible that we will be able to feed 12 billion or more people. Carpenter suggests that this technology may help us end world hunger.
I’m not certain I’m looking forward to a world where a good hamburger is replaced with soy-based protein powder assembled in patty shape… and there is nothing to indicate what this will taste like. I can’t help but wonder however if this is possibly the future.