3D Food Printing and the Altered Food Fabrication

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Cinzia PIATTI, Universität Hohenheim, Germany
3D food printing (3DFP) represents the contemporary turn in mechanization applied to the food sector. Mechanization has been a driving force in major societal transformations since the industrial revolution. In agriculture, it has given rise to substantial agricultural yields, sometimes resulting in unintended ecological consequences and social issues emerged, but it is yet to be implemented (efficiently, according to some) in the final stages of meal production. Processes of mechanization have been central in the food processing industry to respond to mass demand, in the making of the industrial way of eating. Relatively recently mechanization have reached homes and catering activities, moving from a macro (industrial) dimension to a micro (civic) one. 3DFP represents the final end of this shift, having entered massively the food processing sector, part of the hospitality industry and also households. Integral to additive technology (Campbell et al., 2012), 3DFP allows consumers to literally create some food items using a computer program and ‘small’ equipment, that is, the printer itself and few other tools. The practical (manual) activity intrinsic to cooking and its knowledge (Trubek, 2000) are marginalized, also reassembling previously accepted categories such as industrial and artisanal or popular and elitist, to name a few. 3DFP’s advocates (eg. Council and Petch, 2015) highlight its convenience and low-cost customized food fabrication, and claim its benefit extend from food security and nutrition to development, sustainability and reduced food waste. Such a ‘possibility’ perspective though underplays the alteration of production itself and the world orders (sensu Boltansky and Thevenot, 1986) we associate to it. This paper presents a preliminary investigation on 3D food printing and questions the narratives that accompanies it, highlighting the (neglected) live materiality embedded in food fabrication.