3D printed food belongs in space. Not in the kitchen.
It's great to rattle the durable-goods manufacturing economy. But food and durable goods are quite different when it comes to determining a quality product.
I like to listen to futurists like Ray Kurzweil talk about where we will be in 20 to 40 years. I love integrating new technologies into my kitchen first. For example, I want my restaurant, Moto, to be the first restaurant with a fully automated indoor farm. I even think one day we will use our robotic laser for a lot of the daily prep work so our chefs can spend more time growing foods on-site. Think of a laser like a thousand chefs with uber-precise knives. Ask any chef if they would like to have 100 chefs working in the kitchen free, and most would gladly take the extra help.
That's how we make our current edible menu from nori, an edible seaweed. No paper, no ink, just good and healthy nori. Fun. We love to think like futurists, but implement the available technologies to get closer to a truly sustainable future.
What about 3D printed food? I don't see how it makes our food better. Better food exists when we handle it less and bring it, as close as possible to its purest form, to the dinner table. There is something to be said for a simple roasted carrot. Then again, how about a roasted carrot that was grown in a farm inside the kitchen using compost created from kitchen food scraps? Sounds delicious to me.
'PROCESSED' (REALLY PROCESSED) FOODS
So why would we take the perfect carrot, puree it, then put into a 3D printer to make a carrot? It doesn't make sense to me. I could be wrong. Maybe chefs will want to spend thousands of dollars on a piece of hardware that essentially gives them one extra processed step toward a finished product.
3D printing for space travel? I get it. After consulting with NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts on a 3D food replicator back in 2005, I can say we really have no better option for replicating Mom's homemade apple pie in a sealed space capsule than with a 3D food printer. It's low-temperature ability to create textures, colors and complex flavors within a small space is unmatched.
Great for a multi-year journey cooped up on a spaceship. I will take that any day over freeze-dried foodstuffs in the unlikely event I have to leave this planet.
For 3D printed food, the idea is that we take the textural building blocks of food, such as amylose and amylose pectin, and create texture. Then various colors or food pigments are stored in cartridges along with flavonoids of all types. Acidic, rich and fatty, meaty, vegetal, etc. Am I whetting your appetite yet? Yeah, me neither. Not something that brings the eating experience closer to the "farm."
At the end of the day, it becomes illogical to add a processing step in order to re-create a dish or food experience. Unless, for some reason, you need to travel through space.