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    20. Waiter, There’s a Physicist in My Soup! (Part 2)

    en-usFebruary 02, 2011

    Podcast Summary

    • The Debate between Molecular Gastronomy and Slow, Organic FoodBoth science and organic food play a critical role in our survival, and while the debate between them will continue, it's important to understand how they both contribute to the world of food.

      The debate between molecular gastronomy and slow, organic food has long been ongoing. Nathan Myhrvold and Alice Waters are on opposite sides of this debate, with Myhrvold championing a scientific approach to cooking and Waters championing simple, organic food. Myhrvold believes that science and food go together, and thinks that people should be informed about how things work in the kitchen. On the other hand, Waters believes that molecular gastronomy is a kind of scientific experiment that feels unreal and is more like a museum. Despite this debate, food science has played a critical role in our survival, and developments such as being able to pasteurize food have been crucial to our existence. So, while the debate about how we should approach food will continue, it's clear that both science and organic food have a place in our world.

    • The Revolutionary Invention of Canning and its Impact on Food AvailabilityThe innovation of canning preserved food and made it available year-round, eliminating diseases caused by nutrient deficiencies. Ensuring abundant food availability is crucial in addressing mass famines and malnutrition.

      Canning of food, developed during the era of Napoleon in France, was one of the most transformative inventions in the food industry. Nicolas Appert, the father of canning, won a large cash prize from Napoleon for developing the method to preserve food in cans and jars. Canning allowed for food to be transported to longer distances and become available year-round. In addition, adding iodine to salt and vitamin D to milk helped eliminate diseases like goiter and rickets that were caused by nutrient deficiencies. Availability of right kind of food all year-round has played a key role in eliminating several diseases today. Consequently, ensuring abundant food availability is crucial in addressing mass famines and malnutrition

    • The Importance of Innovations in Food ScienceInnovations in food science such as the bulk aseptic processing method can help improve food safety, reduce waste, and address global food security challenges. It is important to constantly push the boundaries of innovation to create sustainable solutions.

      Norman Borlaug, a plant chemist, introduced heartier wheat strains that saved a billion lives and won the Nobel Peace Prize. He established the World Food Prize for food science, won by Professor Philip E. Nelson for developing bulk aseptic processing. Nelson’s method preserves food without sacrificing flavor or nutrition by pasteurizing it in a thin layer using sterilized pipes and valves. This allowed farmers time to make better decisions about market demand for their crops, reducing waste, and improving food safety. Nelson’s innovation was a breakthrough in food science, with wider implications beyond tomato processing. Borlaug and Nelson’s work highlights the importance of constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation to address global food security challenges.

    • The Importance of Scaling up Food Processing Techniques with CautionCareful planning, attention to detail, and the courage to take on daunting challenges are crucial in developing new food products. Thorough research, trial and error, and maintaining a sterilized environment throughout the entire process are essential.

      Dr. Nelson's journey in developing processed tomato products highlights the importance of scaling up food processing techniques with due diligence and caution. Although he faced several challenges in the process, including bacterial contamination and inadequate tank sizes, he was persistent in his efforts to create a viable product. His success depended on thorough research, trial and error, and the willingness to take risks in scaling up his production. In doing so, he also learned valuable lessons about the critical importance of maintaining a sterilized environment throughout the entire process. This story underscores the importance of careful planning, attention to detail, and the courage to take on daunting challenges when developing new food products.

    • Philip Nelson and Pablos Holman: Innovators in the Food IndustryPhilip Nelson and Pablos Holman have brought significant changes to the food industry, inventing new products like not-from-concentrate orange juice and discovering new possibilities with food technology. As the industry moves towards new technologies like 3D food printing, innovators like Holman are leading the way.

      Philip Nelson's work brought significant changes to the food industry, including the invention of not-from-concentrate orange juice, fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, juice boxes, and wine in a box. Even if homemade food is your preference, it is commendable that people like Nelson and Pablos Holman are working hard to feed the rest of us. Holman, a computer hacker who works at the Intellectual Ventures lab, is discovering new possibilities in food technology. With his projects like commercial space flight, Holman wasn't interested in food until he started working next to Nathan Myhrvold's experimental kitchen. As the future of food looks wild with 3D food printing, hackers like Holman are figuring out what's possible in the food industry.

    • Pablos Holman's 3D Printer Can Revolutionize the Way We Cook and Serve FoodHolman's 3D printer can reduce food waste and make food production more precise, efficient, and convenient. It uses industrial scale ingredients and allows for control of every pixel, resulting in high-quality food.

      Pablos Holman is addressing the inefficiencies in the food system by inventing a 3D printer that can print food. His aim is to provide a solution for the last mile of efficiency where preparing and serving food are usually time-consuming and wasteful. Similar to an inkjet printer, Holman will use droplets of food and control every single pixel through a laser to cook it at the exact temperature, speed, and consistency he wants. With this method, food production becomes more precise, efficient, and eliminates waste. By using ingredients that are prepared on an industrial scale and preserved at the point of origin, food can be easily produced and served without devaluing its quality.

    • Redefining Food Production with 3D Printing and Personalized Nutrition3D food printing can create personalized meals for individual needs and dietary restrictions, potentially saving thousands of lives over time. However, it requires a networked food consumption and ecosystem designed for personalized health needs to fully achieve its potential.

      Redefining food production could change the very fundamentals of nutrition. By preserving ingredients optimally and using them to design meals in a CAD system, a 3D food printer can print out meals with personalized nutrition, tailored to individual needs and dietary restrictions. With apps controlling sodium and cholesterol intake, this could mean thousands of lives saved over time. However, for this innovation to change the world, it requires networked food consumption and a food ecosystem designed to work harmoniously with personalized health needs. This close link between technology and nutrition blurs the line between science fiction and reality, and Holman’s vision for a food printer with controlled nutrition and flavor is quickly becoming a reality.

    • Networked Food Consumption and Just-in-Time Meal Production Could Revolutionize Our Food SystemThe concept of a food printer may sound like science fiction, but it already exists and could be useful in disaster relief efforts. With just-in-time meal production, we could save time and prioritize activities we love while also reducing food waste and improving health. It's essential to continue to innovate and prioritize sustainability in our food system.

      Networked food consumption with just-in-time meal production could be a game-changer in eliminating food waste and improving health. While the idea of a food printer may sound like science fiction, the prototype already exists, and it could be useful in disaster relief efforts. Our current food system would have seemed unimaginable to people a century ago, and we must continue to innovate and improve it. With all the time and effort saved by just-in-time meal production, people could spend more time doing things they love, like salsa dancing. While individual tastes may vary, the low opportunity cost and speed of purchasing quick meals can be appealing to busy people. As we continue to innovate and improve our food system, we must prioritize sustainability and health.

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