April 30, 2018

#theFutureOfFood: Healthy. 3D-printed. Customized.

Building on our desire for uniqueness, the customization hype is constantly growing. It seems that nowadays, if we’re ready to pay extra, we can personalize almost every product - from packaging with self-designed pattern, to M&Ms with our own name on every piece of candy. While 3D Food Printing is easily answering these market needs (with byFlow’s software and 3D Food Printer it’s possible to change almost every desired shape or picture into a food product, like chocolate or cake decoration), the technology is aimed to contribute also to a different kind of food customization.

A picture from Food Ink pop up restaurant in London (2016), co-organized by byFlow

“You are what you eat” - you’ve heard this before, right? Probably as an argument supposed to convince you to change your eating habits, go only for healthy products and don’t treat your body like a trash can for junk food. While these kind of tips are well-founded to some extent, they do not answer the most crucial questions - which products, diets and habits are actually healthy. And even if they do intend to answer them, it’s only to compete with other nutrition theories, which claim something absolutely opposite.

Luckily, the scientists are about to save us from the neverending discussions on the perfect, healthy diet. The current studies started to confirm what could have been already suspected - healthy means something else for everyone. Our bodies are different (not only from the outside, but especially from the inside), thus our nutritional needs are different. If we are what we eat, then what we eat should match who we are.

You might think now that it’s nothing new and that your doctor or nutritionist has been giving you personal diet tips already for years. Indeed, the knowledge that our lifestyle, diseases and results of blood tests should influence what we eat, is certainly not a new discovery. However, this knowledge is taken now to the next level by turning to our DNA. The truly personalized diet should be be based on our genetic code. The ongoing reserach in Australia’s CSIRO is aimed to find out if the “DNA-diet” could not only keep us healthy, but even repair destroyed, disease-causing part of DNA. While the latter discovery stays so far in the lab, the idea of genetic-based nutrition is already implemented in practice. If you wish to find out what should you eat and get a customized dish served on your plate right away, it doesn’t require a trip to the future. Just go to London - Vita Mojo restaurant has two locations, offers DNA tests and serves DNA-personalized food.  

But what has 3D Food Printing to do with it? It is researched (also by CSIRO, the user of byFlow’s Focus 3D Food Printer) as one of the solutions to combine the knowledge with practice. While Vita Mojo restaurant seems to already apply the latest inventions, it actually makes only a tiny step towards the future. If smart dieting is really supposed to replace the one we know, it needs to become easier, faster and more sustainable for the planet.

3D Food Printing has a great potential to satisfy all these needs. It could make it possible to produce personalized meals on the spot, on the bases of our DNA and daily body needs. It could prevent food wastage, as the cartridge with food for printing leaves no leftovers. Finally, it could do it all without taking away our pleasure of enjoying eating as an experience. After all, even if fully personalized, healthy or even healing, food has to stay also tasty, appealing and pleasurable. A beautiful, 3D-printed dish instead of a “meal-pill” sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?

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