You've probably already caught wind of the new technology called 3D printing by which someone (in the foreseeable future, you) could print off 3D items such as a gun (scary!), a piece of art (not so scary) or even . . . a pizza?
That's what NASA's banking on at least -- and we mean literally banking: It recently gave a $125,000 grant to a research company to create a prototype of a 3D food printer.
The gist of the idea:
According to Anjan Contractor, a senior mechanical engineer at Systems and Materials Research Corporation which received the NASA grant, the technology is fairly simple to understand. By breaking food down into basic building blocks (think, protein and carbohydrates) to be stored in printer cartridges, food customized to a person's individual nutritional needs could be printed off anywhere.
NASA is interested in the idea because they want to use 3D printed food to feed astronauts traveling to far off places, like Mars.
"Long distance space travel requires 15-plus years of shelf life," Contractor told Quartz. "The way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out, and in that form it will last maybe 30 years."
But beyond that use, Contractor says, he envisions a world where every home has a food printer. He's worried about how the world will feed its ever-increasing population and says, surprise, this might be the key. And if you're wondering how the U.N.'s insect idea plays into all this, don't worry he's on top of that, too. Contractor says 3D technology would enable us to explore alternative ingredients for food since they'd be broken down into powder form anyway. Some of his suggestions? Algae, grass, duckweed and, you guessed it, bugs.
In our opinion the freakiest part about the whole thing is the fact that future-food could be tailored to meet one's exact nutritional needs. It sounds very Big Brother/The Island to us. Between this and the in vitro meat plan, we're already feeling a bit sorry for the future generations.
Chocolate printer prototype: