3D Printed Food: The Future of Healthy Eating | Chloe Rutzerveld | TEDxYYC

Translator: Bob Prottas
Reviewer: Camille Martínez I’m here today to talk to you
about 3D food printing. If you Google “3D-printed food,” photos
of my work will show up on the first page. I am internationally asked to give
presentations about food printing, and I’m even nominated for several awards. But you know, the strange thing is, that I never operated a single
3D food printer in my life. And to make it even stranger, I might be one of the most skeptical
persons towards the printing of food. I’m a food designer, a passionate cook, and I’m highly fascinated about nature. Today my whole life revolves around food, around healthy eating, cooking,
experimenting and reading about it. I just love the bright colors,
the way it grows and transforms, the way it smells, and the endless
taste combinations. I think designing with food is one
of the most intimate forms of design, because people can actually eat design and experience it
through all of their senses. But what interests me most
as a food designer is a combination between the aspects
of food and science and technology. Through my work, I show possible ways
of using new technologies to enhance our food system,
instead of producing more fast food. So I use technological and scientific
knowledge to think of new ways to make our food more efficient,
healthy and sustainable. And if you look around, you’ll see I’m not the only one
who is so obsessed with food. As a result of a continuously
growing world population and an increasing ecological
footprint of man on earth, many engineers, scientists, artists,
designers and chefs are looking for solutions to solve world food problems – for example, the consumption
of alternative animal proteins, like algae or insects; the development of new production methods,
like growing crops vertically under LED light
with specific light recipes; or as already mentioned, the development
of new production techniques, like 3D food printing. And before I continue talking
about 3D-printed food, I would like to ask you something: Who here thinks that more people worldwide suffer from malnutrition
than from obesity? Well, it actually turns out
that there are more people suffering from obesity
than from malnutrition, and even though governments
and food manufacturers know this as well, these are a couple of examples of products that are currently being produced
by these food printers. So whereas already too many people
suffer from obesity or can’t afford fresh
fruits or vegetables, a lot of time, money and resources
are invested in the development of fancy-looking shapes
of chocolate, dough and sugar. And even NASA has invested
a major amount of money in the development
of a 3D food-printing company who’s currently printing pizzas. So is it just me, or do you also think
that that’s totally ridiculous? (Laughter) I truly believe that we can
benefit from technology, and that technology can actually solve
world food problems and do something good. But not if technology is merely used
as a cool gadget to reshape unhealthy processed foods
into a fancy shape. I came in contact with the world
of food printing when I was asked by the Netherlands Organization
for Applied Scientific Research to think about an innovative
3D-printed food product. They were going to present this product
during an annual food pioneer event, and at that time I was still
an industrial design [student] at the Eindhoven University of Technology. I was both flattered and surprised to be asked by such a well-known
research institute to collaborate with them on this food project. To give a short explanation: printing food is basically the building up
of a product layer by layer, by depositing a material or by using a laser or liquids
to fixate layers of powder. So when I found out more
about these different methods, the products already produced
and the added value, I wasn’t exactly impressed,
and to be honest, I was even kind of disappointed
by the uselessness of the machines, and the unhealthy products
they are creating. So I didn’t want to spend my time
on the development of a new fancy-looking shape
of chocolate or dough. But instead, I decided to use the network
of the research institute to think about how we can use
this technology in a more useful way. So what I did is I combined
high-tech production methods with authentic practices
of growing and breeding food. Because I just told you
about the different methods, and the problem with these methods
is that you need to mash up or grind the food first, before you can process it. And also additives – and in some cases
even liquid nitrogen – are necessary to successfully print these food products
you just saw in the pictures. So I figured the only possible way
to produce food that is natural – and in fact, also healthy –
with these new technologies, would be to start
with the basic raw material, and let nature take its course. So that’s what I did. I designed a 3D-printed food
concept called “Edible Growth,” that uses the printer merely as a tool
to facilitate and enhance the natural. The printer will build up
a growth-enabling structure, like an edible ecosystem, that will grow and transform
at the consumer’s house. The basic idea is to print
a carbohydrate support structure with an edible breeding ground
that contains seeds, spores and yeast. The organisms will be
separated from each other by a membrane that prevents contamination, but allows the seeds and spores
to access the breeding ground. So this whole product will be printed
directly inside a recyclable greenhouse, and you, as consumers, will take
the recycleable greenhouse home, and simply place it on your windowsill. On your windowsill, natural processes like photosynthesis
or fermentation will start, and the yeast will slowly transform a solid core into a liquid, while the seeds develop into sprouts,
and the spores, into mushrooms. Within the next couple of days, the technical straight lines
of the support structure will be covered by these natural
and organic-looking shapes of the mushrooms and the sprouts. And these changes in physical appearance
show the development of the taste, scent, structure and the entire
eating experience of the product. So as a consumer, you can decide
when to harvest and eat your product. You could decide to eat it
on the third day, or if you like a more intense taste, you could harvest and eat
the product on the fifth day. It’s like Roquefort cheese or wine, that the intensity of the product
will age over time. So every day it will become
a little bit stronger, which you can also see on the development
of the physical appearance. So a product like Edible Growth
will make it very easy to go from eating microwave dishes to growing and harvesting
your own food at home. And a product like Edible Growth
will not only give you more insight into your food production, and also allow you
to harvest your own food, but it also has a lot
of environmental benefits. [Environmental benefits –
Agricultural land – Water and energy] [Food miles – Food waste –
Absolute freshness – Consumer involvement] [Pre-packaging and distribution –
Financial and ecological benefits] If the product grows and transforms
at the consumer’s house, far less agricultural land and water
are necessary to grow the product. And also food miles will be reduced, because the food doesn’t have to travel
from the farm to the distribution center, from the distribution center to the store, and from the store to your house. And because the product
will be printed on demand, no food needs to be stored. So that also means that no food
can turn bad or expire. So it will also reduce food waste. Also pre-packaging and packaging
will be unnecessary, because the recyclable greenhouse
can be used over and over again. And these are just a couple of examples
of how a product like Edible Growth offers financial and ecological benefits. At this point in the history
of food printing, Edible Growth is the first idea
for healthy – and in fact, sustainable – printed food products
that actually add something to solving the world food problem. At this point, prototypes are traveling
the world from expo to expo, and the project receives
a massive amount of media attention. And it’s all due to the fact that it’s the only healthy and sustainable
3D-printed food product. And even though Edible Growth product
is not ready for consumers yet, because more research needs to be done
on the material composition, the software and the hardware, it inspires a lot of scientists,
artists, designers and also chemists to look beyond what’s currently possible with 3D printing technologies
for food production. And within the next couple of months
a German research company, and also from a University –
how is it called? – and also from a German university,
the professor and the PhD students are going to first develop
the material composition, and afterwards they will look into
the software and the hardware development. So perhaps, within the next two years it will be possible to eat
a product like Edible Growth. So my point is, that many people
are very skeptical towards the use of high-tech
in food production. They think the more artificial
or the more technology, the more artificial, the more sugar
and the more additives the food contains. But that doesn’t necessarily
have to be the case. Because I think most of you forget
that everything we eat is actually designed by man. Everything we eat is technology. Farming is technology.
Agriculture is also technology. But we started to see these technologies
as natural, as nature. So perhaps the influence of these new
high-tech production methods doesn’t have to be bad or unhealthy. We should use these
new technologies to our advantage to create healthy, efficient
and more sustainable food to reduce the ecological
footprint of man on earth. Thank you. (Applause)

Daniel Yohans

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