New Era of Food: Will you eat these?

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.

  1. Lab-grown meat

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

 

Sources:

https://brightside.me/wonder-curiosities/10-high-tech-foods-we-will-be-eating-in-the-future-414010/

https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/high-tech-foods/

https://www.samsung.com/us/explore/family-hub-refrigerator/overview/

https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2016/5/4/11591780/samsung-family-hub-smart-fridge-hands-on-price-release-date

 

Thanks for reading,

Jobabes121

 

 

13 comments

  1. mmerckbc · ·

    Great post Jo! As crazy as it may seem, the question is no longer whether technology will shape how we make food but rather when and how. For the most part, I can see all of the technologies you mentioned becoming more mainstream. However, one use of the technology that I’m sort of unsure about is the 3D printing. I understand how it can be useful for the design of food but don’t see how it would be able to print a food with actual nutrients. And on a side note, I one hundred percent agree with you on the smart fridges. Maybe I’m close-minded but I just don’t see the need to be able to send text messages from my refrigerator!

  2. danmiller315 · ·

    Really cool post on a unique topic. This is an area that I never would have really thought could be heavily influenced by emerging technologies. I actually like the idea of a smart fridge if it dropped down to a more favorable price point. I don’t believe that it is overly necessary to be able to send a text message from my fridge, but I think it is safe to say that we are trending in the direction where the technology is so readily accessible that it will be included anywhere and everywhere. I think that the impact of emerging technologies on food as a long way to go, but I think that this post did a great job of highlighting some potential use cases that might not be so far away.

  3. Molly Pighini · ·

    I think you did a great job with this post. Each innovation will affect the food industry in a different way. While I was initially turned off by the idea of lab-grown meat, I was pleasantly surprised by your explanation. It seems the creators are looking to create a cleaner and potentially safer production process, rather than a synthetic one. If successful and rolled out on a large scale, this could limit contamination as well as improve environmental aspects. I am also very curious about the idea of 3D printed food. Having little exposure to these printers, I am still a bit unclear how they construct such diverse items for use. What type of material would food printers use? What would you need to provide them/have on hand? Would it actually streamline the process? It will be interesting to see how things unfold going forward.

  4. NeroC1337 · ·

    Firstly, I highly regretted to open up this blog late at night, seeing the first pic makes me feel hungry. However, the further I read down the blog, the more concerned I became. Are we already at that stage of human extinction that we need to look for food sources that in these unorthodox ways? On the one hand, I am amazed about what technology could do, but on the other hand, I am amazed how much we relied on technology to do all sorts of jobs for us. And these is no stopping now. Although the 3-D printed burger may not looked tasty, but sooner everyone will be eating foods like that, once they tasted the same with the real food.

  5. markdimeglio · ·

    Great post! I am a huge fan of all of these innovations. In particular I think lab-grown meat and 3-D printed are especially exciting. As @mollypighini1 stated in her response, I feel like a lot of people are understandably hesitant about eating lab-grown meat. I personally am optimistic that this won’t be a problem for long, as the meat is chemically the exact same thing as real meat. I think eventually people will be disgusted that we used to kill actual dead animals rather than growing it in a lab.

    Additionally, I think 3-D printed food could be a huge game changer. It could totally change the way fast-food operates. Not only in-store, but also how much business they get from licensing the brand/producing for in-home consumption.

    I look forward to these innovations because I think it will make the way we consume our food a lot cleaner and more efficient.

  6. kseniapekhtere1 · ·

    That’s a great post. I really like the idea of a smart fridge. I would love the fridge to be able to track my groceries and remind me if I am running or something or if a food item is about to expire. The text message feature and TV seems a little extravagant. However, I feel like IoT is becoming so predominant that soon we will be able to send a text from any home device. The price is too expensive for most people now but I am sure at some point it will go down significantly and make the fridge more affordable. The lab-grown meat is also an interesting development. As Molly said it does not sound appealing at first. But I do understand its positive impact on the environment and can see it finding its niche among environmentally conscious customers.

  7. Lucy Wilson · ·

    Like everyone has said, the smart fridge sounds most appealing to me!! I see a lot of potential with this. Often time, in my dorm room, my roommates and I have trouble throwing things away before their expiration date. Once they go bad, they make our room smell and we are forced to rummage through the fridge checking the dates on everything. With a smart fridge, though, I don’t see this being much of an issue at all. When food enters the fridge, I bet there would be some way to catalogue expiration dates and receive alerts to cook something before it goes bad.

    Another potential application I have with this is for food allergies. Many families have someone with a nut allergy in their household. For that reason, they can’t have any nut products in the house. Again, with smart fridges, I don’t see this as being an issue. The smart fridge will be able to manage what foods can and cannot be near each other. Really interesting post!

  8. kennedy__bc · ·

    Focusing more of the 3D printing of food, I’m of the opinion don’t knock it till you try it so hey who knows if it will taste good. One thing this class has taught me is that a lot of the things we use everyday seemed unorthodox and outside the norm ten to fifteen years ago. Take Uber for an example, the classic phrase of “don’t get into a car with strangers” sounds even comical when thinking about the success Uber has had. Coming back to the food industry, I have seen a lot of Facebook videos of the 3D printed cakes and pastries and from what I have seen they taste as good as they look (which is really good). As this technology develops consumers will adapt as they always do to the changing technological landscape and I believe in fifteen years people won’t think twice about eating this.

  9. Nice post. I do wish it had dealt more with the course topic, though. I almost made an reminder announcement earlier in the semester to keep them focused on the digital aspects. The 3-D printed food is a clear fit, though, and it will be interesting to see what direction this heads

  10. mqzhang · ·

    Thanks for sharing some of our future meals, Jo! Personally, I’m willing to try a lab-grown burger if people say it tastes the same. It takes an extraordinary amount of resources to grow a cow to maturity for slaughter, and we’re a population that is constantly expanding and expecting more of everything. Consumption of meat is considered an affluent luxury in countries that are currently experiencing massive growth in income and living conditions. For things to work out, I believe at least a portion of future meats will have to be created in a lab rather than grown in a pasture. I would imagine the additional advantages of lab-grown meat include much easier to guarantee quality control and almost zero incidents of food recalls from pathogens and contaminants since these meals were never alive and free-roaming in the first place. Having such control over the development cycle of our meal sources would eliminate a lot of risk from consuming meat, I would imagine.

    If we educate people about the benefits of grown meat compared to natural meat, I believe there would be enough demand out there to warrant producing these meats at scale. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see “Test Tube Burgers” as the next big restaurant startup specializing in lab meat. I know I would be among the first in line to experience the future of our food supply.

  11. HenryChenChen · ·

    Interesting topic. I personally would prefer regular foods instead of these New Foods. I think some of the technology and food you mentioned will become affordable as the growth of relevant technology. Even though they are environmentally friendly and may be affordable, the health issue might still be a concern. In the example of lab-grown meat and a glass of algae, I think we are using genetic editing to meat and vegetables. Because of the information asymmetry, such food might be considered as dangerous or unhealthy for consumers like me. But I think such food might still have a good market from animal lovers and the government might encourage us to eat such food because it’s environmental friendly.

  12. tuckercharette · ·

    I thought that this post was really awesome. It’s wild to think of all of the new ways that technology is changing the way we think about certain processes in our lives. I think that Smart Fridges are actually pretty cool. Rummaging through a fridge does not seem like a process that needs to be substituted but I do like the idea of getting an updated grocery list if something is stocked out OR if you put a request in for your mom’s grocery list. I know as a kid I was always asking my mom where her grocery list was to ask for certain things for her to buy. This would be a nice way to remind your parents if they’re forgetful. To be honest, my mom used to stress a lot about the variety of the kinds of food we would eat and would ask us what we wanted to have for dinner in the near future because she would forget about certain ideas we had tried which were good.

    I think tech can be applied to a ton of places. A space especially close to home is in our backpacks. I’m surprised that nobody has broken into the space of forgetfulness more recently. If people can make RFID chips that are cheaper, then our backpacks could track when we forgot an item which we had class for, or if someone had one of our items. Think about the number of times you forget that one of your friends has one of your items. Or if something is lost, is it in your room? The possibilities are endless.

  13. DingnanZhou · ·

    Awesome post! Personally I was a little bit conservative and will wait and see how other people respond to those new “tech” food. It really got me to think if everything in the future would be artificial. Will we have loyalty to natural food or we will just switch so easily when those “tech” food arrives. Since the resources in the planet are limited, is this a way to solve the problem? The cost of having meat is actually expensive because animals are consuming a big amount of water, grass and etc. I am looking forward to see how it goes in the future!

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