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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

3D printed food

3D Printed Food, Meet Willy Wonka

There has been talk of 3D printed food for a long time. We saw meals materialized out of thin air in Star Trek. A few years ago, a beautifully designed food printer was featured on this blog, if only in an artist’s impression, with the end product being a brownish drop of liquid. But when will this elusive printer finally be here, in real life? It turns out it already is.

A company called Choc Edge is offering a chocolate printer for a measly €3000. A cookie printer will be next, according to Dutch TNO food scientist Kjeld van Bommel, costing only around €300-400 in a few years’ time.

Van Bommel works on 3D printed food for the elderly. Today, older people with problems swallowing or chewing have to take their food blended and through a straw. With 3D printed food, each bite can be cooked and formed to exact specifications of chewiness and tenderness, providing the elderly person with a varied meal containing different textures.

The food printer uses pureed foods like chicken or broccoli, adds gelatin and extra vitamins and prints the designated shape. Ice-cream and pastry are also possibilities. As top chef Sergio Herman had to conclude, the taste still needs a lot of work. And there are other challenges. In the picture above, we see cubic and cylindrical shapes, much like breakfast cereal. Van Bommel talks about the shape of a chicken leg or a piece of broccoli.

Why we should stick to such boring geometric shapes? Why not add a little magic and fun, and grow a bean tree with carrot flowers on your plate? A sandcastle made of mac and cheese? An ice-cream landscape with a chocolate fountain? We need Willy Wonka in here!

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