This year’s “Future Of Food” exhibition takes place on 21st June in London, an event that brings exciting and creative people together in one place to look at what cutting-edge technologies exist – or could do – to shape the way we produce and consume food.
Given that two of our favourite things are innovation and food, we thought we’d share with you a handful of our favourite (and sometimes slightly crazy!) innovations in the food industry over the years.
The future of “cooking”?
As it turns out, Star Trek wasn’t all that farfetched. We’re not so sure about being beamed up, but when it comes to food that is prepped, cooked and served on command we’re not as far away as you’d think.
3D printing is quickly becoming more accessible and affordable, with companies looking to explore new areas of opportunity all the time. Traditional 3D printing works by slowly building up layers of material, a process called “additive manufacturing”. 3D food printers though are slightly different. They currently come in a variety of models, but generally follow the same principles of being pre-loaded with raw ingredients, which are then dispensed through nozzles or lasers into objects (e.g. sugarcraft, doughs or pastes). While still in its very early stages, experts believe that 3D food printing could, in the future, create foods by dietary requirements, for example, or cut down on waste and the environmental impact of cooking.
You can find out more about 3D food printing HERE.
Getting creative with food prep...
So this technically isn’t a food innovation in itself, but we love it too much not to include it. This particularly innovative DIY cutting board birdfeeder, designed by Curro Claret. Admittedly there are faults in the design (cut bread outdoors? Or let the birds in?) but for novelty and creative value we think it’s great!
The rise of the machines!
It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that robots are predicted to be huge (in popularity, not necessarily size!) in years to come. While they’re already popping up in restaurants in China to greet and serve guests - and even help with food preparation - for now we’ll have to settle for automated machines, like the vending machine which can produce a takeaway pizza complete with toppings in three minutes. We kid you not - this does exist!
Left on the shelf
The best way we can explain this is like keeping food in a state of suspended animation. The process of freeze-drying is relatively modern but can give food a shelf life of 25-30 years!
Food is placed on racks inside a vacuum chamber and temperatures are lowered to below freezing before being raised, which transforms water in the food to a gaseous state. As nothing is removed from the food, only maintained, the food retains the level of nutrients and freshness it had at the point of freezing.
To bring them back to life, you just need to add water – like a modern-day Pot Noodle, only much more nutritious!
It’s all in the mind...
Tapping into the idea that eating is as much a psychological process as a physical one, neurogastronomy – first coined by Gordon M. Shepherd in 2006 – looks at the experience of eating. Our palates are surprisingly easy to fool and are as much subject to the wiring of our brains as the makeup of the food itself. This is how we could be craving a big plate of stodgy comfort food yet be surprisingly satisfied by vegetables!
Notable examples of neurogastronomy are Heston Blumenthal’s experimental Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire, or the Ultraviolet restaurant in Shanghai, which uses light, sound, projections and aromas to affect the concept of taste. You can find out more about neurogastronomy HERE.
Have you got any weirder or more wonderful food innovations? We’d love to hear them!