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Yum! Printed Butter, Please

Four-fifths of my family lives to eat. Yours truly eats to live. Not that I don't care about what I am eating. I crave, especially if it involves butter. It's more that if I don't like the entree, I will happily satiate myself with the accompaniments. Whereas, the rest of my tribe enters a deep funk if a meal leaves them less than pleased. I will eat regardless. They will go "hangry" until they can rustle up precisely what their brain wants. No compromises.

So, when I came across an article on 3D printed foods, I had a mixed reaction - twenty parts "whoa", five parts "no way" and seventy five parts "finally", thinking of how happy this could make the demanding eaters in my life.

3D printed foods! Whodathunk.

Well, somebody did with the potential for a perfect recipe of presentation, automation, and (fingers crossed) taste.

Imagine telling Google Home or Alexa to turn on the smart lights in your kitchen and then walking past the refrigerator that is on the grid to a device that will print out your pizza. Imagine no more. All of this is now a reality. Lookup BeeHex. It will print us a pizza of our choice.

3D printers use packaged cakes that are used to "generate" your dish. The thing that holds back mass market adoption is the cost of packaging, preserving, and shipping these cakes. The technology is evolving towards more natural ingredients, less preservatives, and more collaborative recipe sourcing.

Natural Machines (hmm) produces a printer called Foodini (clever!) that uses AI to see, think, adjust, plan, and learn as it produces crackers, pasta and the like. Doesn't that sound like you and me in the kitchen?! And when it comes to intricate designs - like sugar lattices on desserts - printers can certainly deliver more precision than human hands.

3D food printing companies are experimenting with alternative meat products - stuff that looks and tastes like meat but is plant based. The challenge is that in order for this technology to become a regular in our kitchens, our relationship with food has to change as well. When will I be ready to eat a steak that is made of plant products that came out of a machine? This is not going to be easy or quick. Sugar lattices with a touch of butter on the other brain will definitely adjust to that rapidly.

Printed foods could arguably impact our food supply as the world's population outpaces the resources our planet offers. On to this technology if it is one of the answers to reducing hunger. It may not happen in my lifetime, but a revolution is lurking.

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