During the past semester, we covered many topics that go beyond the course’s title Social Media & Digital Business. We learned about concepts ranging from legality in social media to blockchain and spent a chunk of time talking about how tech will shape our living in the near future (especially about autonomous vehicles). What interests me the most in these discussions is tech’s evolving role in our daily lives, and today I will share a topic everyone loves: food.
There are two main ways that tech is influencing our food choice. One is via the dish itself. I read this article a while ago, and it struck me so hard that I would love to share a few dishes with you all.
- Lab-grown meat
It’s no longer this expensive, but its exaggeration shows its high price
You have probably heard about this one before, but I only knew about this to an extent where tech used to make processed meat. As the name suggests, it is literally grown in a lab instead of a farm. There is a startup named Memphis Meats (pretty catchy name with the alliteration) that specializes in the “lab-meat” product, and it creates this type of meat by putting alive animal cells into a tank full of oxygen, sugars, minerals, and other resources to make the cells divide and grow. This “clean meat” maker is getting some significant spotlight as one of the hottest startups at the moment, and the meat apparently tastes exactly the same as a real one.
Upside: Animals don’t have to be killed for our meat consumption; an edible meat choice for animal lovers. Also, it will help save the environment by reducing global warming coming from our beef consumption when it becomes commercialized.
Downside: Its per pound cost is unbelievably expensive, and it requires those who are interested in the product to pre-order without an instantaneous supply (due to its developing phase). We may see these on grocery shopping shelves in the next few years.
2. A glass of algae
This one got me a bit hesitant to want and try, but it is a new solution that sustainable farmers are seeking these days. This genetically engineered algae can be grown even in a salt water without the need of using chemicals for environmental damage. It is apparently more productive than crop plants that produce protein, and soybean, which is a great source of protein, may be replaced by this with higher efficiency.
Upside: No need to cut down rainforests to grow soybeans or other protein sources from plants! This is a GREAT news for vegan/vegetarian population who seek a good source of protein.
Downside: Ongoing R&D with no clear date on its commercialization. Its potential as a perfect replacement of real algae is yet to be determined.
3. 3D-printed food
This is still up-in-the-air, where lots of startups are working on 3D-printing for the actualization of digital contents. In fact, some bakers are already implementing this technology to design cakes or other baked goods with incredible designs on computer. Its convergence with real food industry is still unclear, but many success stories in 3D-printing indicate some confidence in its possibility.
Upside: No need for cooking; you can just print off a dish you crave from your laptop!
Downside: Unknown date for commercialization (high price). Nutrition factors as real food. I mean, would you actually eat this?
And… on a side note:
4. Jellyfish chips
I think I’m gonna stick to Cheetos or Lay’s.
Two is via the kitchen. @kkim312 shared an article on Twitter about this a while ago, and I found this quite fascinating. This so-called a “smart fridge” is one of the recent inventions that are getting commercialized. With Samsung’s recent launch of the smart fridges, firms are trying to convince customers that it’s a new must-have item that will form a deep connection between family members. It’s just like a smartwatch, but a LOT bigger and stationary.
Upside: You can do multiple tasks with this fridge. You can create a shopping list, order groceries and even see inside the fridge instead of rummaging through each item every time you pull out an ingredient. Also, you can share family schedules, send messages, and even call their phones. Last but not least, your fridge will also play music and movies at your service. So now, you don’t have to watch the TV from a far distance while cooking in the kitchen (I’m sure moms will love this).
Downside: It’s at least a $3000-4000 investment. It’s your call, but I’d rather buy a smart TV and normal fridge that I can use both at the same time instead of the small screen.
I’d love to hear what your thoughts on tech revolutionizing our food consumption as well currently and in the near future! Do you think it’s too excessive or reasonable? It all boils down to the pricing point I’m sure, but a food for thought.
Thanks for reading,