Loving this from Olga Khazan over at The Atlantic:
Around the time that the previous futuristic-food genie — a 3D printer that spits out geometrically shaped, insect-based food pellets — was unveiled, Anjan Contractor, the inventor, told Christopher Mims, a reporter for our sister site Quartz, “I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently. So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”
After the technique was unveiled, a Yahoo news headline proclaimed, ” NASA awards grant for 3-D food printer; could it end world hunger? ”
“No,” is the resounding answer, according to several development writers who responded at the time. We don’t [need] new ways to turn insects into food, it turns out. “Hunger” means not having the stuff to make food — insect-based or otherwise.
“Using chemical reactions to turn plant matter into food isn’t a revolutionary idea,” wrote Josh Keating in Foreign Policy. “By this standard, the oven in my kitchen is a 3-D printer: If I put in special powders called flour and yeast, it will print me out a loaf of bread.”
Update: And this, from Eric Holt Gimenez, even moreso:
Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity. For the past two decades, the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth. The world already produces more than 1 ½ times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s enough to feed 10 billion people, the population peak we expect by 2050. But the people making less than $2 a day — most of whom are resource-poor farmers cultivating unviably small plots of land — can’t afford to buy this food.
In reality, the bulk of industrially-produced grain crops goes to biofuels and confined animal feedlots rather than food for the 1 billion hungry. The call to double food production by 2050 only applies if we continue to prioritize the growing population of livestock and automobiles over hungry people.