Along with air, food is the main source of energy for humans. According to Ogle (2013), food was universally considered as a crucial component of nation building, as important as navies, guns, and bullets. Nowadays, people begin to reconsider their attitude to food; they acknowledge that it is the resource that can be easily exhausted, especially, if the population of Earth will continue to increase with such a speed. The most prominent minds think over the problem of preservation of the existent food and its alternatives so this theme is quite topical nowadays. The following paper aims to discuss the perspectives of the human nutrition. It will also explain how human science fiction-conditioned brains get ready for such major changes. Particularly, the following research paper will explore the functional and synthetic food and its peculiarities, as well as will concentrate on the process of 3D food making as one the most possible ways to get food in future.

The Problem of Human Nutrition Is not a Phantom

The problem of human nutrition is not as simple as it can seem. In the twentieth century, the human way of life changed greatly during a short time. The physical activity of the overwhelming majority of people sharply reduced as there was no need to engage in hard daily work and expend a lot of energy. However, changing the rhythm of life has led to an ever-growing mental overload, stress and chronic neurosis in the population of most countries of the world. Global processes associated with the development of technology, industry, energy, transport infrastructure, urban growth, the reduction of undeveloped areas, deforestation, and many other phenomena caused by human activity have led to changes in the environment. Moreover, the scarcity of fresh water and its quality is deteriorating in many countries. The number of environmental problems is, unfortunately, only increasing and they are becoming even more acute. Along with these changes, the nature of human nutrition was also radically changed. Nowadays, American people are bombarded with various television programs that show where to find the best dinners, cakes and pizzas, and the restaurants that serve the biggest and juiciest burgers (Zimmerman 2012). However, in future, the situation will change dramatically.

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The development of the food industry and technology contributed to the removal of the most important food and regulatory substances from the most of products. As a result of denaturalization of products (all possible purifications, distillation and refining “pumping” by preservatives and industrial chemicals, artificial taste substitutes, color and odor), many nutrients disappeared from the natural food. At the same time, adding the artificial substitutes of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, synthetic vitamins and mineral components in the form of compounds, which are hardly absorbed by the body, leads to the development of many diseases, such as allergy, deposition of kidney stones and liver and many other illnesses. The deficit of the major natural biologically active substances in the modern food has led to the situation when, in order to fill this deficit of amino acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, nucleotides, vitamins, minerals and other vital substances, a person should eat huge amounts of food. People should “find the light from the nutritional tunnel” (David 2013). The use of products containing excess animal fats and foods containing large amounts of carbohydrates is growing particularly fast. Today, most of the population receives energy from carbohydrates, especially sugar, the production and consumption of which is growing with enormous speed. As a result of an unbalanced diet, there has occurred a real epidemic of obesity in most countries, which, in turn, leads to a number of serious diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and myocardial infarction.

In the next few decades, the world population is going to reach the level of 9 billion people, and the nutrition industry cannot provide so large population with food in its current state. The researchers propose several options to prevent the world’s food crisis, and the usage of functional foods can be a magic stick for the future generations.

Functional Foods: Challenges and Opportunities

Food can be considered as functional if it contains food components which act positively on one or more specific functions of the body. The researchers define functional foods as something that embraces potentially healthy foods, including any modified food or food ingredients, which can provide health benefits; in addition, they provide the nutrition. According to its supporters, such products contribute to maintaining health, reducing the risk of diseases as well as inhibition of the aging process. A functional food is a notion that is fully consistent with the well-known principle of the father of medicine Hippocrates, who believed that food should be medicine and medicine should be food. The report of the Institute of Food Technologists states that “Developing functional foods to improve public health requires contributions from ongoing basic and applied research and modifications to the current regulatory framework to facilitate the review of new functional components and their health claims (Institute of Food Technologies n.d.).”

Functional food products consist of only useful substances; they do not contain any harmful chemicals in their structure and are completely safe. Unique biotechnology that allows preserving and improving the useful natural properties of vegetable or animal components is usually applied in the production of functional foods. According to Hasler (2002), all foods are functional to some extent because all of them provide taste, aroma and nutritive value (3772). Functional food, in contrast to conventional one, contains more essential biologically active substances, which are always well-balanced with each other. Therefore, functional products have incomparably greater biological value as compared to traditional ones. According to leading scientists, such a food should be widely used for active correction of human nutrition in the XXI century.

In the future, functional food, no doubt, will be included in the daily life of each person. This is one of a few ways to solve the global problem of optimization of nutrition, health and life of people. Today, therefore, the efforts of scientists around the world are focused on the development and production of new functional foods. Functional food option is the most effective way of solving the problem of the world’s food crisis.

Synthetic Food

One more option offered by the nutrition professionals is the development of synthetic food. The idea to construct an ideal food to feed all the hungry people, prevent many diseases and, eventually, change the nature of man seemed extremely attractive. Indeed, human development has led in the past to one of the greatest revolutions, namely, the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and farming, and in later times to the industrial production of a number of foods. It was assumed that the creation of artificial food will restore the environment, and a problem of critical and non-critical natural situations for crops and the whole humanity will disappear.

The famous French chemist Pierre-Eugène-Marcellin Berthelot believed that “The epicure of the future will dine upon artificial meat, artificial flour, and artificial vegetables,” and enjoy the delights of “artificial” wines, liquors, and tobacco” (Ogle 2013). He opined that organic materials can be easily synthesized and thus manufactured and manipulated in the laboratory (Ogle 2013). The famous scientist also believed that the humanity would no longer need the farms and fields since, most obviously, people would manufacture the products rather than wait for their natural growth. When some reporter asked the chemist “Do you mean, that all our milk, eggs, meat, and flour … will be made in factories?” Berthelot replied “Why not if it proves cheaper and better to make the same materials than to grow them?” (Ogle 2013). Like many other scientists, Berthelot knew that this process would not be easy; however, he believed that the meat would be produced in the form of easy-to-swallow pills. The naysayers criticized his theory, but the scientist replied that the creation of the synthetic food is just an extension of the human progress. Nowadays, more and more scientists say that a safe and healthy meat can be grown in the laboratory. Vitro meat will save humanity from waste and pollution, and animals from suffering. Bill Gates also talks about new food technologies, for example, an organic meat substitute of the company Beyond Meat, which is created by pressing, heating and cooling soy and vegetable fiber which are virtually the same as the usual meat by taste and texture. He also promised that new technologies will not only help to feed the hungry people, but to change the quality and composition of the usual food. Thinking about the future of food, Bill Gates concluded that “by 2050, the world’s population will grow to more than 9 billion and our appetite for meat will grow along with it.” With this in mind, Gates also acknowledged that “there is no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people” (Gates 2013). This wise man understands that the humanity needs more options for producing meat, because not everyone can become a vegetarian. Bill Gates offers a few alternatives – such companies as Hampton Creek Foods and Beyond Meat are already working on the experiments with using pressure and heat in order to make the plants look and taste as the meat. After tasting the chicken in Beyond Meat Company, which was cooked from the plants, the New York Times reporter Mark Bittman noticed virtually no difference. He is asking “Why, in other words, use the poor chicken as a machine to produce meat when you can use a machine to produce “meat” that seems like chicken?” (Bittman 2012).

However, the natural products will be also useful in future. Carot Potera in her article “Diet and Nutrition: The Artificial Dye Blues” (2010) states that “some manufacturers are using plant-based coloring agents: “For example, in the United Kingdom, orange soda Fanta is colored with pumpkin and carrot extracts while the US version uses Red 40 and Yellow 6. McDonald’s strawberry sundaes are colored only with strawberries in Britain, but Red 40 is used in the United States.” It means that different countries have different approaches to nutrition which determine the future of food in these countries.

To summarize, the production of unique alternative synthetic foods is a relatively young area but gives enormous profits and can provide food to billions of consumers around the world. Undoubtedly, the production of synthetic foods is one more possible scenario in the development of human nutrition.

The Role of 3D Printers in Future Nutrition

Nowadays, the wise modern technology has got closer to the food, the most important joy and woe of humanity. In May 2013, NASA announced the development of 3D printing technology of food. Its main idea implied that the astronauts could print ready and delicious dishes instead of eating them out of the tubes during long missions. The initial aim of the joint project of space agencies and ambitious engineering office in Texas was to cook a pizza using the 3D printer, and they succeeded. Apparently, in the near future, three-dimensional printers will replace virtually all the equipment for cooking and fundamentally change the food market. Indeed, due to the process of the global urbanization the soils are exhausted and the humanity should have thought how the modern technologies can improve the situation. That is the main reason why 3D-printers that can print with eatable “inks” appeared in the world’s market. Three-dimensional printing is no longer to be exotic, and prices for printers are gradually reducing. Nowadays, one can buy a simple model for less than $ 1,000. Inkjet technology implies the possibility to use anything that can flow as ink. Not surprisingly, the 3D-printers are trying to print a delicious and wholesome food. One can already print the imitation of chocolate, fish, carrots, mushrooms, apples, chicken and many other products. Paradoxically, the necessary amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates can be programmed during this process. In order to print any dish from a variety of possible, it is necessary to choose the correct ratio of the components and the corresponding flavors. There are many companies which work in the industry of synthetic foods by using 3D printing and Modern Meadow Company is one of the most successful ones. Sui Ying Teoh opines that “Modern Meadow, a biotech startup, is working on 3D-printing meat for the masses, and with a big grant incoming, they seem to be well on their way” (Ying Teoh Sui 2012). Undoubtedly, the ability to make any dish of several ingredients with the compact device is fundamentally changing the world’s largest industrial sector – the nutrition.

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All in all, the humanity has faced a crucial problem of the quality and quantity of food resources. New major companies which are engaged in agricultural technology are working on the creation of perennial crops requiring less fertilizer, herbicide and fuel, compared with the current ones. This can be achieved not only through the introduction of GM organisms, but also due to the simple selection. The agronomists predict the appearance of forgotten cultures such as quinoa, emmer, and also millet that tolerates heat. In addition, the approach to livestock will completely change; the meat will be grown in test tubes that will release the amount of cultivated land which is important for the projected urbanization. Pondering over the perspectives of nutrition, Zimmerman (2012) offers to create the picture of future: “Picture yourself not too far into the future: you are wearing a small “dietary watch” that painlessly samples your blood, and downloads the information to your cell phone, which has an app that evaluates the nutrient profile of your blood and then recommends a snack or dinner menu to assure you maintain adequate nutrient levels. What else is not far off?” Actually, everything is possible as one could not even imagine that the machines which would create delicious food would be invented. 3D printers are one more brilliant human invention which makes one step closer to the overcoming of the world food crisis.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that it is not the secret that in the future, mankind will face the challenges of global warming. People are waiting for long periods of heat and drought, alternating with large-scale floods. All this does not bode particularly good conditions for livestock and crop production. Moreover, the population of the planet will increase by another two billion people, and the humanity will have to create something to feed them. Scientists are puzzled with the creation of more sustainable vegetables and cereal crops, development of new technologies and the search for alternatives for supply. New trends in biomedical engineering, medicine, processing and cooking – all this will affect what people eat. It is quite difficult to predict exactly what will become popular in 50-100 years. Most likely, it will be something that exists at the moment, but which is not being used on a large scale, so that some predictions still can be possible. In order to avoid the problem mentioned above the researchers developed a lot of theories. One of these theories is called functional food and it contains opportunities and challenges as well. The other one is creating synthetic foods; it will allow combining the already existing tastes with the new ones. It will help to replace the expensive food resources with the cheaper ones. 3D food making is one more option which is aimed at overwhelming the world’s food crisis. I believe that only a successful combination of all these options will lead the humanity to the bright future.

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