Food, test-tubes and apps are changing the way we eat.
Technology and food, who knew they could mix so well? Okay, I suppose we did already know that (and anyone who’s made a cake with an electric beater knows this better than most!) But outside of helping us bake, technology is changing every year and scientists and tech geeks have come together to change the way we eat and see food. Let’s talk about what’s next for our mouths…
It may make some cringe, but it’s essential for dehydration, canning, storing and freezing of food. While people often associate processed food with junk food, what we don’t know much of is food irradiation and chemical food preservation.
Food irradiation is a process that aims to reduce spoilage of food and extend the shelf life of fruits, vegetables, spices and meats. It works by exposing food to radiation to kill insects, bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms. The word radiation is probably making you feel unsettled but, to be clear, it’s a different type of radiation that is used to make nuclear bombs. The food does not generate gamma, electrons or x-rays. No form of radiation energy remains in the food after the treatment – there is no way you are eating your way up to being the The Hulk. Even more assuring is that food irradiation is approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The process was first commercially advertised in the 50s, but was researched and examined from the early 1900s. In Australia, irradiated food include spices and some fruits and vegetables. Radiation is measured in kilograys (kGy) and a maximum of 1kGy is permitted for fruit and 30kGy for spices in Australia.
Chemical food preservation has been used for centuries, it is substances added to food to destroy or delay the growth of micro-organisms. These substances are usually found in your own home, such as sugar, vinegar and salt. The food is either marinated, pickled in vinegar or salted.
Nano-technology is an on-going research, scientists hope nano-technology will kill micro-organisms and bacteria by concentrating on nano-scales. The process is still under deep examination. A form of natural nano-technology has been here forever through natural nano-structures on food, but scientists are yet to understand its full potential and what it means for the future of food. New Nano-technology research cannot be applied without the gaps in information being filled out, these gaps include how food is structured and broken down.
On August 5, 2013, the first ever in-vitro hamburger, created in a test tube, was tested publicly in London. The in-vitro meat – otherwise known as cultured meat – took scientists from the Maastricht University three months to make, and cost up to $332,400 to develop in a lab. Mark Post, a professor at Maastricht University, said the development of cultured meet is needed due to a high demand of meat that cannot be matched by current methods. Testers at the event said the meat patty was close to real meat in its texture, but did not have the exact taste of traditional meat. The experimenting and creation of cultured meat is still underway. Cultured meat is made by taking stem cells from an animal, multiplying the stem cells and later injecting the test tube with nutrients like protein.
You were thinking, when are the geek food lovers coming in? Well here are four amazing apps that will revolutionise the way you eat and order food.
Evernote Food: The app launched early this year contains everything you need to know, store and share about food. Evernote Food allows you to save meals you’ve eaten at restaurants through pictures, location tags and captions, also keeping all your recipes in one place. It also suggests recipes and restaurants according to your taste buds and recommends restaurants within a 10km radius of your location. Who wouldn’t want that? Something to help you remember the food, even if it’s the only perfect thing that came out of your date on the weekend.
Eat on Time: Eat on Time is an app that allows you to order your food at restaurants within Westfield Sydney. It was launched this year and is currently only available on iPhones – apologies to Samsung and Windows enthusiasts. The app gives you the luxury of ordering your food a day before so you can skip the queue. Eat on Time was initially launched in Westfield San Francisco and was a huge success. The app is now hoping that in a few months time, if it is successful, it will be launched across all Westfield shopping centres.
PERES: PERES requires two devices, your smart phone and a specially designed hand held device, to analyse the freshness and quality of a product. You can avoid food poisoning and prevent food being thrown away unnecessarily. The app and device were developed by ARS Lab Ltd and were launched April 2014 in the UK. This technology is scheduled to launch world wide later this year according to Augustas Alesiunas, CEO of ARS Lab. How does it work? Well the hand held device uses a gas sensor to measure the gas concentration of your food, and data transfer technology to analyse the information gathered. From there it transfers the information through bluetooth technology, onto your smartphone.
Meat Cuts: Do you avoid certain meats because you don’t know how to cook them? Meat Cuts is designed to educate its customers on the best methods to cook meat cuts. Meat and Livestock Australia launched their new app last month, the app includes 41 beef, 25 lamb, 21 veal and 20 goat cuts. It informs you where each cut originated, the best method for cooking and why. Meat Cuts offers 107 recipes, one for each cut.
The way we eat food is revolutionary and changes in season. Food is here to help us maintain our pant size or to break that new button you sewed on your jeans last night. Technology is only helping us achieve a happy broken button and more. – Daisy Montalvo
Top photo from Mike Licht’s Flickr photostream