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...and a Side of 3D-Printed Nuggets, Please...


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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Mmmm. Extruded chicken paste heated with two types of laser. Sounds disgusting.

 

"Ever go to the dentist and get fillings done? They have a laser they use to seal the fillings and you get that smell.. a little bit of an industry odor a sharpness you get to it that you don’t get with normal chicken. You smell the heating of the laser and you can smell it a little bit with the chicken, it leaves a little bit left on it."

 

No thanks.

 

The abstract of the paper makes some incredible claims that the paper doesn't back up in order to make the research seem more interesting. 

 

"Infusing software into the cooking process will enable more creative food design, allow individuals to more precisely customize their meals, disintermediate food supply chains, streamline at-home food production, and generate horizontal markets for this burgeoning industry."

 

Uhh... If you say so...

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infusing software into the cooking process will enable more creative food design, allow individuals to more precisely customize their meals, disintermediate food supply chains, streamline at-home food production, and generate horizontal markets for this burgeoning industry."

 

Or it will complicate and add cost to a simple thing.

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Well, creating and demonstrating the technology is at best a starting point. Figuring a way to make it scale, and then determining a practical use-case, those are the big hurdles. I don't especially expect this to come to fruition, but new technologies *will* inevitably gain a toehold and potentially alter how things are done. We won't know which technologies until after the fact, of course.

 

The market for frozen, heat-and-eat chicken meals is already substantial; it's not at all implausible that this could be merged with another technology - lab-cultured meats - to produce industrial quantities of prepared quasi-chicken for that market. I'm pretty sure it would sell in supermarkets and Walmarts if the price point was competitive enough, and I absolutely guarantee it would appeal in the institutional market (schools, prisons, retirement homes, campus cafeterias, etc). A properly designed and operated factory would almost certainly mean less risk of foodborne illness than the current system.

Not advocating one way or another. With any technology, there's potential to execute well or poorly.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Sure, but these kids didn't really create or demonstrate a new technology. Pureeing chicken and extruding it through a tube isn't new, it's McNugget territory. Shooting lasers at food has been a thing for a while, though I guess they made some slight progress on what wavelengths and wattages work better for cooking vs browning. I guess that's something? But the technique they've come up with produces a metallic or industrial off taste/odor and takes a long time. I don't see this scaling easily to industrial/institutional applications because you'd have to aim the laser at each individual piece of meat, making multiple passes over the entire surface; timely batch processing isn't possible. Meh.

 

3D printed food is mostly dumb and gimmicky. Extruded paste isn't an inspiring medium to work in, pasta to the contrary notwithstanding. And laser-cooked food doesn't seem to taste very good or offer real advantages compared to other cooking methods. I've seen some other tricks done, like a Japanese crew using lasers to only fry the white/fatty part of bacon, leaving the pink part raw. But like this chicken experiment, it didn't seem especially delicious. The best applications seem to be "drawing" realistic images on tortillas or omelettes, like the Modernist Cuisine crew does. But that's kinda gimmicky too.

 

Bah humbug.

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