Back to the Future (of Food) Day [INFOGRAPHIC]

back-to-the-future-day-october-21-2015October 21, 2015: Does that date ring any bells?

If you’re an '80s movie buff, you probably recognize this as "Back to the Future” Day. To get my fellow millennials up to speed, October 21, 2015, is the day the main character Marty McFly arrives after he travels 30 years into the future with his souped-up DeLorean time machine in "Back to the Future Part II." We can’t all time travel with Doc Brown, but never fear, because we’re celebrating "Back to the Future" Day in classic Food Insight style: with food technology.

Most Americans are excited about the future of food technology. Research shows that millennials and younger people tend to be the most enthusiastic about new advancements. In our 2015 Food and Health Survey, we asked 1,000 Americans this question: “If you time-traveled 30 years into the future and found that the following had been invented, how excited would you be to try … ?”

Here are the results:

Millennials tended to be more excited to try these hypothetical inventions than other groups. For example:

  • 83% of millennials were excited to try food with customizable nutritional value/calories.
  • 89% of millennials were excited to try a machine that turns raw ingredients into any meal.
  • 79% of millennials were excited to try a 3D printer that could make any food from scratch. 

Who wouldn’t love a machine that could make your favorite food from scratch, while customizing calorie and nutrient levels? 

We still have yet to see some incredible inventions become reality. In the meantime, there are many applications of food technology that are used today. New technologies are being developed and applied to help both human health and the environment.

Take water conservation, for example. The amount of water used for growing crops in the U.S. has dropped in the past 35 years due to improvements in technology such as plant breeding and high-tech irrigation systems. Researchers are developing crops that use water more efficiently, and technologies that sense how much water a plant needs and deliver the right amount of water needed for each individual plant.

These advancements will go a long way toward creating a food system that uses less water and is better prepared for climate change. You can learn more about these exciting technologies in our recent interview with Wayne Parrott, PhD.

Whether it’s 3D-printed food or an environmentally friendly advancement in ag biotech, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about the future of food technology. We are eager to see what our future holds. 

Valerie Agyeman is a 2015-2016 Dietetic Intern at the University of Maryland, College Park.