The 3D Food Printer could be a potential solution to world hunger. The technology of 3D Food Printers has been developing over the past few years. In 2011, the Cornell Creative Machines Lab invented a 3D Food Printer that is capable of printing real food, and also allows the food to be printed in any design or shape, with various ingredients. As far back as 2011, experts were claiming the 3D Food Printer has the potential of becoming available for home use, which would allow families to create new dishes with healthy ingredients from the comfort of their own home. Even before the Cornell printer was developed, a pair of students at MIT had created a similar conceptual design. However, the Cornell printer was not the last step in the 3D Food Printer process.
NASA has officially agreed to fund the creation of a 3D Food Printer that would be able to feed astronauts during their trips into space. Although this is a very specific goal, officials also believe it could help end world hunger. The official name of the printer is a “universal food synthesizer,” coined by Anjan Contractor of Systems & Materials Research Corporation. According to Contractor, there is potential for every family in the globe to have a 3D Food Printer. Families would simply have to buy nutritional, replaceable cartridges of various powders and oils from their local stores. These packets would last up to 30 years according to Contractor, and if this is the case, it could heavily reduce world hunger, particularly in developing countries where people do not have the ability to visit stores on a regular basis.
NASA will be giving Contractor a $125,000 grant to Contractor in order to develop the technology. According to Contractor, as well as some world economists, the current food systems of the world are incapable of feeding 12 billion people (which is a population estimate for the upcoming years). He makes a strong case; many impoverished families in developing countries die from starvation, including many children under the age of 5. This new technology could help feed these families for up to 30 years, which is more than enough to support a child throughout adolescence. If it becomes widespread, the entire world’s perception on food would be altered, and in a positive way.
The 3D Food Printer will be developed over a span of six months. According to Contractor’s company, the printer will incorporate proteins, sugars, and carbohydrates in the printer in order to create edible, potentially tasty, food products. Contractor also commented that he believes food will become more expensive in the upcoming years, which is not a far-fetched belief. As the population grows, particularly in developing countries, food will become even more of a necessity. The 3D Food Printer would be a cheaper alternative to the higher price of food. There will also be some alternative food sources in the printer, which will include insects, algae, and grass. Although it may seem a little unusual, these alternatives will provide the same nutrients necessary for a person to flourish, and will help keep the cost of the printer cheap and affordable across the globe.
Overall, this is a lofty goal, but if Contractor is able to successfully print a pizza over the next few months, then it will become a completely plausible future for the way the world creates and eats food, and may provide a viable solution to world hunger.
– Corina Balsamo
Sources: Huffington Post, Daily Times, Inhabitat