Five ridiculously futuristic food inventions that could change everything in 2014
The future of food is looking pretty fantastic. Not quite as fantastic as Leeloo’s insta-chicken in The Fifth Element or George Jetson’s roast-beef-feast-in-a-single-capsule—which, due to a few complications (most notably, the laws of physics) could never exist—but it’s still eye-opening. By this time next year, everyday consumers could be 3D-printing their dinners, getting buzzed on hangover-free booze or foregoing food altogether for a diet consisting solely of nutritious chemical sludge. Here, five impossibly cool food inventions that are set to revolutionize the way we eat in 2014.
What Is It? A 3D food printer.
How Does It Work? Users load the machine with specially designed food capsules, which are squirted out into patterns according to pre-loaded specifications. The prototypical version can shape basic things like mini-pizzas and cookies, but users still have to make final touches and bake items in a regular oven.
When Does It Go Public? Mid-2014
How Much? About $1,300 USD
Our Assessment: We suspect the Foodini will turn out to be the kitchen equivalent of those early MP3 players that only held about 11 songs—cool in concept, but not worth the expense at such an early stage in development.
What Is It? A drug that produces the same effects as alcohol, but without nasty side-effects like liver damage and hangovers. Consumers can immediately sober up by swallowing an antidote—a feature that could make drunk-driving a thing of the past.
How Does It Work? The drug, which is in the same family as Valium, selectively targets GABA receptors in the brain to produce instant tipsiness.
When Does It Go Public? Not for awhile. Dr. David Nutt, the drug’s lead developer, is in the process of looking for investors and hopes to start clinical trials in the next year or so.
How Much? Undetermined.
Our Assessment: The prospect of a hangover-free buzz is tantalizing, but there’s something scary about the notion of using a serious psychotropic medication as an everyday social lubricant. Also, we have a sneaking suspicion government regulators are going to be all over this.
What Is It? A handheld device that shoots lasers into food and then sends nutritional stats to your smartphone.
How Does It Work? The gadget, which looks a bit like a garage-door opener, uses “laser spectroscopy, nanophotonics and a unique mathematical algorithm” to determine the chemical composition of food items, including the overall calorie count and the presence of gluten and other allergens.
When Does It Go Public? August 2014. You can pre-order a Tellspec now on company’s webpage.
How Much? $320 USD, plus an ongoing subscription fee of $7.99 per month
Our Assessment: This could be a revolutionary tool for dieters, allergy-sufferers, or anyone who’d prefer not to ingest contaminated foodstuffs (or rely on corporations’ potentially less-than-candid disclosures about food contents). There may still be a few glitches to work out, though—according to the Toronto Star’s Corey Mintz, the Tellspec has trouble seeing through gourds.
What Is It? A symbiotic food production system that dates back to the Aztecs.
How Does It Work? Fish and veggies are cultivated side-by-side in a system of tanks. The veggies act as a natural filtration system by sucking up fish waste, which in turn helps the plants grow.
When Does It Go Public? Whenever you’d like, provided you’re prepared to craft a homemade aquaponic hobby farm. An extensive commercial system is currently in the works at Downsview Park, and should be delivering fish-fuelled veggies to Toronto farmer’s markets by early 2014.
How Much? This tiny counter-top aquafarm sells for $60 (but it probably won’t feed the whole family).
Our Assessment: Food experts have long pegged aquaponic farming as the sustainable food system of the future, but an elaborate home-based setup might not be realistic for cramped city-dwellers.
What Is It? A tasteless, odourless food replacement beverage created by a 24-year-old entrepreneur in Silicon Valley (not to be confused with Soylent Green, a fictional food product made out of people).
How Does It Work? Soylent powder is mixed with water to create a greyish chemical smoothie, which users consume instead of eating food. According to its inventor, a day’s supply of Soylent contains the exact balance of calories and nutrients required to keep the human body running at peak performance.
When Does It Go Public? You can order a week’s worth of Soylent now on the company’s website. International orders are scheduled to ship in mid-2014.
How Much? About $9 per day to sustain a Soylent-only diet.
Our Assessment: The company’s website promotes Soylent as a way to “free your body” from the “hassle” of consuming food—a message we’re not convinced is going to resonate in our era of foodie-ism. On the other hand, a cheap, non-perishable food substitute could be a promising tool for combating world hunger.