The world’s largest food manufacturer, Nestle, wants to change the way we eat by trying to create a Star Trek like food replicator. The project is named “Iron Man” and has begun to investigate how certain nutrients affect the body, brain, and gastrointestinal function. The hope is to create a device that scans an individual’s levels of nutrients and designs food based on their needs.
Nestle’s Institute of Health Sciences’ (NIHS) director, Ed Baetge, stated the products made with “Iron Man” would be more effective at treating vitamin and nutrient deficiency than the supplements in drugstores today. He continued to suggest that those benefits could potentially alleviate illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Kwashiorkor. The device would make it easier for owners to get healthy food without going to the store,”Out comes your food at the press of a button” said Baetge. The Nestle spokesman stated if they do the project correctly, the device will be small enough to be placed right next to a microwave.
The NIHS director has employed more than 100 scientists who are studying biological indicators for diabetes, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and cardiovascular disease. The major food developer and manufacturer will also collaborate with the analytical science institution Waters Corp. Observers have hypothesized that the technology is decades away from being practically used, if it all possible. But they are confident that if any company can do it, it’s Nestle; considering their resources and success in the food market. Baetge said in the past food was only food, but now they are headed into a more scientific and biological understanding.
Scientists, nutritionists, and the public have theorized on the implications of Nestle trying to create the Star Trek like food replicator. Nutritionists state if the technology is commercially viable and garners mainstream acceptance, there would be no excuse for people to not eat healthily; also obesity percentages are hypothesized to plummet with the advent of this technology. Counter arguments to this notion have surfaced, citing if consumers have the ability to replicate food at the push of button, overeating would be easier than ever. Even if the food replicated is healthy, too much of it can lead to obesity. There are some theorized economic detriments to certain institutions if this machine is popularized.
According to economic observers, Nestle’s Star Trek like food replicator could eliminate supermarkets. With the public having the ability to get exactly what their body needs right in their home, the need for outside food sources would decline rapidly and supermarkets, grocers, and restaurants could possibly close down rapidly. Depending on how the system actually works, farmers and crop manufacturers might become obsolete as well. Baetge has not yet released any information on how the device will actually work or any estimation to when a prototype will be completed.
Nestle has stated they are confident they will get there and have already garnered outside investors for funding. The company also suggested that their new technology could aid in food insecurity in third-world countries.
By Andres Loubriel