We hold life changing technology in the palm of our hands everyday when we use our smartphones. But have you ever wondered how, or if, technology has improved our food production and delivery service in order to help feed us and the world?
One expert says technology has been slow to enter the world of food and agriculture but that is changing quickly, in days not years, as more innovations make their entry into the world of food production.
What does that mean for you?
Variety, on demand products and more natural ingredients including packaging of the foods you buy will be more readily available including coming to your own kitchen.
Let’s take a look at some of the technology solutions you will see soon!
3d Food Printing
In a previous article I discussed 3d food printing and have seen it in action at CES®, the big international technology innovation show, which highlights tech innovations available now and those in the pipeline.
At one time, 3d printers were being used readily to create plastic products like toys. It now can be found creating many products, including clothing and even homes (yes, 3d printed houses). But food is a most fascinating application for this type of technology.
Many restaurants and bakeries have been using one product, called Foodini, for awhile now but home versions are poised for invasion in the next year or two.
Imagine your child saying to you that they would enjoy eating a chicken nugget in the shape of their favorite teddy bear or carrots shaped like stars. Wouldn’t you make that for them if it helped them eat their veggies? Naturally, many parents would want to do so and now they can.
In fact, one printer can be loaded with breadcrumb coating and another with the chicken for your very own creations. How about pizza from Chef 3d in any shape you or your kids desire?
Chocolate has been squirted from 3d printers for some time to make personalized monograms for weddings or catering events even gifts with the company logo.
The drawback has been cost of the technology that would make sense for everyday in-home use but that is quickly changing too. It may not be time to add it to your holiday wish list just yet, but the future is closer than we think.
Reducing Food Waste
Keeping food fresh longer without the need for increased refrigeration, special transportation from farm to retail, or picking before it is fully ripe to prevent spoilage may be a worry of the past.
One researcher has found a way to use the cast off from wine production to create a natural coating for harvest fresh produce that will protect it from spoilage during transport or waiting for sale in the supermarket.
Derived from the discarded grape skins leftover from creating wine, an edible all-natural coating can be produced and applied to fruit and vegetables that slows evaporation and oxidation, which results in spoilage. The coating is tasteless and invisible and is already being used for avocados.
This process from Apeel Sciences has been shown to keep produce fresh three times longer reducing food waste.
Reducing food waste while bringing the freshest, most nutritious produce to us is a win for technology.
Growing Food Smarter
Most of us are aware that the soil is the root of nutrition when it comes to growing our foods. When we grow in the most optimal soil, our plants will derive nutrients we need. But how do we know where each type of food grows best, what in the soil will nurture the growing plant, and what climate works most efficiently to feed the world?
Enter technology which can track different crops, nutritional content of the end-product, rainfall, temperature, soil conditions, and other environmental factors to help determine where and when to plant particular plants for highest yield and nutrition.
Using technology, researchers can replicate ideal growing conditions and locate the places to make it happen in real life for lower cost and improved production. It is happening now with hazelnuts.
Monitoring the Herd
Facial recognition technology, such as that used by government agencies, is being used to monitor the cows and other animals on the farm to help agribusinesses determine what actions are needed to keep them healthy and free from disease. Monitoring and patterning their behavior similar to some IoT devices used for those aging in place in fact!
Tracking devices can follow the animals to see what they eat, where they walk, if they are breaking established patterns which may signal illness, or if they need a change in feeding schedules or amounts. It can be used to keep the herd safe as well as track it from farm to slaughterhouse to mange it throughout the process.
These monitoring devices are being used with cows, poultry, pigs, and even aquaculture.
Consumers want to know their food is sourced in a sustainable, economical, safe, and humane way so they feel confidant that what they eat is healthy for their bodies.
We should also consider what is good for the earth, reducing waste and making food available to all.
Using technology to improve the way our food gets to our plates so that is not only affordable but nutritious is a global concern that we know researchers and innovators will continue to pursue with our support!