3D-printing with living organisms "could
transform the food industry"

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers: food designer Chloé Rutzerveld has developed a concept for "healthy and sustainable" 3D-printed snacks that sprout plants and mushrooms for flavour (+ movie).

Edible Growth 3D-printed food by Chloé Rutzerveld

Rutzerveld's Edible Growth project consists of 3D-printed shapes containing a mixture of seeds, spores and yeast, which will start to grow after only a few days.

"Edible growth is exploring how 3D printing could transform the food industry," she says in the movie. "It is about 3D printing with living organisms, which will develop into a fully grown edible."

Edible Growth 3D-printed food by Chloé Rutzerveld

Each of the basket-like 3D-printed structures, which Rutzerveld presented at Dutch Design Week 2014, contains an edible centre of agar – a gelatinous substance that enables the seeds and spores to sprout.

Edible Growth 3D-printed food by Chloé Rutzerveld

As the plants and mushrooms grow, the flavour also develops, transforming into what Rutzerveld claims is a fresh, nutritious and tasty snack after only a few days.

"As it comes out of the 3D printer you can really see the straight lines of the technology," she says. "But as it develops, you can see organic shapes. You can see the stages of growth and the development of taste and flavour."

Edible Growth 3D-printed food by Chloé Rutzerveld

The aim of the project, which Rutzerveld developed in collaboration with the Eindhoven University of Technology and research organisation TNO, was to investigate ways that 3D printing could be used in the food industry.

"By 3D printing food you can make the production chain very short, the transport will be less, there is less land needed," says Rutzerveld."But also you can experiment with new structures. You can surprise the consumer with new food and things that haven't been done before."

Edible Growth 3D-printed food by Chloé Rutzerveld

In particular, Rutzerveld wanted to find a way that 3D printers could be used to create fresh and healthy food at home.

"A lot of people think industrialised production methods are unnatural or unhealthy," Rutzerveld says. "I want to show that it doesn't have to be the case. You can really see that it's natural. It's actually really healthy and sustainable also at the same time."

Edible Growth 3D-printed food by Chloé Rutzerveld

However, Rutzerveld's project is still at the research and development stage and she admits it will be a long time before anyone is able to 3D-print her snacks at home.

"It will take at least another eight to ten years before this can be on the market," she concedes. "The technologies really need to be developed much further."

Chloé Rutzerveld
Chloé Rutzerveld

This movie was filmed in Eindhoven at Dutch Design Week 2014. The music in the movie is a track called Family Music by local hip hop producer Y'Skid.

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers is an ongoing collaboration with MINI exploring how design and technology are coming together to shape the future.

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers

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  • M. Vitruvius

    Something positive first. I greatly enjoy ANY students’ project and especially those of the Design Academy in my country of birth.

    Having said this, I am a foody. I enjoy fresh products that are prepared with love and knowledge.

    These little slab-grown alien fungi make me lose my appetite. Please don’t muck about with food, keep edibles far away from laboratories and people with Frankenstein-complex.

    • I can’t see any harm in fresh mushroom and herbs grown from seaweed. This is evidently a progress in the right direction. Cheer up the future is coming!

      • M. Vitruvius

        I don’t see the harm but I also don’t see the need or the attraction. Therefore I don’t see how this is progress.

        I do see devotion and experimentation and even aesthetic value, which is also worth something.

      • Bob Arpanet

        We are surrounded by unnatural man created foods. This is another step down that road. I will stick to my fresh-grown backyard vegetable garden, and home-made bread. When you have all kinds of weird new cancers and sicknesses in 20 years from eating adulterated food, and I’m still healthy and well, the truth will come out.

        • Here’s where you’re getting it wrong. Our foods are being adulterated because they’re handled by corporate manufacturers.

          But when you have your own food processing machine at home then you have full control on the ingredients used. That’s quite empowering for the majority of us who lack the means and time to lead your organic self-sufficient lifestyle.

        • Melody Szabo

          Bread is one of the very worst things you can eat. It converts to sugar very rapidly, which is the leading cause of heart disease, stroke, alzheimer’s, and hundreds of other brain and nervous system disorders.

  • Please print pancakes.

  • Chris MacDonald

    They look great, I think!

  • spadestick

    It’s cool how the plants and mushrooms actually aim their growth through the holes. Maybe they were encouraged?

  • Concerned Citizen

    If you think microwave food tastes bad, just wait…

  • marci hevesen

    It looks beautiful and delicious. Also the photos are very nice. Whether 3D printed or handmade, I wouldn’t care. I’d fall for it. ;)

  • jonathan

    Okay but who would want to put that in their mouth?

  • Dave

    This is extremely exciting. The future of food production with zero transport cost and unlimited supply. As the technology develops, more and more complex foods will be created. The end of world hunger?

    • Bob Arpanet

      And the rise of all kinds of new unforeseen illnesses from eating adulterated man-made foods, not naturally created from the ground, sun and air.

      • shadowraiden

        Clearly you misunderstand what this is showing off. This ain’t chemically engineered food, this is food made using pure organic materials. It’s just as naturally created as stuff you produce in a garden without the need of a garden due to the baskets essentially being plant pots.

  • Zela

    So the herbs and fungi are freshly grown, but what about that bread/cracker casing it was put into? After three days that is going to taste nasty, and if the ambient temperatures are right, it could also start sprouting mold that isn’t supposed to be there.

    Neat concept, but I’ll keep trying to avoid growing things on my bread.

  • Adi

    It’s cool and all but the video and pictures are pretty frightening for people with so-called trypophobia. My back and scalp felt itchy watching it.

  • BStiegler

    Great idea. but couldn’t they have made the food look edible, not something from a 1960s sci-fi film? This way people understandably recoil from the idea.

    • shadowraiden

      I feel this is more of a proof-of-concept idea before any of the real applications start happening.

      I agree the food doesn’t look that appealing but at the same time, if somebody can do this without much in terms of funding, think what people can start to achieve with more and more funding as the whole 3D printing era takes over.

  • adriana

    At last I see something made by my humans that is truly genial and that can really make a difference. The impact of this on the planet, humans and life in general, can be the equivalent of a change, today, as big as the production of fire was to men. What it implies is enormous. This can give us, with time, a big jump in the evolution scale for the better. Socially and economically would change everything.


    This is not going to happen. The big food, oil and energy companies won’t let it come to live. They are going to murder it. And continue to destroy the word and its life as they do now. Well…

Posted on Thursday, February 26th, 2015 at 1:06 pm by . See our copyright policy.

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