In a development that no doubt has printer manufacturers drooling, scientists at the Cornell Computational Synthesis Laboratory are looking into leveraging the capabilities of 3D printing – which they call Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) – to make food. They’d like to think that someday syringe-based food printers will be as commonplace as microwave ovens. So in the future, instead of downloading recipes, we might be downloading food schematics.
The Cornell team cite the obvious advantages of being able to print food, the primary one being customization – a term so mechanical I refuse to associate it with making food, but if this is the future, then so be it. Say you want 5% more turkey goo and 27% less green vegetable mix than the one stated in the schematic you downloaded. Or maybe you want a cake-shaped turkey for a Thanksgiving birthday party. Or perhaps you just want to eat what astronauts eat.
Food printing’s other benefits include lesser dependency on cooking tools. It also should be easier and faster than conventional cooking. More importantly, SFF technology makes it easier for us to emulate the recipes of expert cooks, as well as make healthy food – just download a schematic and your printer will do the rest. The results will be the same all the time, every time.
However, even with all those advantages, I think Cornell is forgetting that eating and preparing food is also a visual experience, and last time I checked, gooey paste isn’t exactly what you’d call appetizing. But while I don’t think I’ll ever prefer processed organic paste over meat, fruit and vegetables, food printing could make it a lot easier to make pastries or candies. What do you guys think?