"Stop filling people and start feeding people."
Hi Chloé! Can you tell us a bit about the what the Edible Growth project actually is?
Edible Growth is a project that explores the future possibilities of 3D printed food. At this point mostly sugar and chocolate products are printed with 3D printers where they focus especially on the shape of the food. I wanted to explore and design real, healthy and nutritious printed food that will also contribute to a better environment.
Multiple layers containing seeds, spores and yeast are printed according to a personalized 3D file. Within five days the plants and fungi mature and the yeast ferments the solid inside into a liquid. The product’s intensifying structure, scent and taste are reflected in its changing appearance. Depending on the preferred intensity, the consumer decides when to harvest and enjoy the delicious, fresh and nutrient-rich edible.
What’s your background?
I’m born and raised in Burgundian Limburg where I grew up with delicious food and a lot of cooking with my mum. I moved to Eindhoven to study Industrial Design and ever since my second year I found my passion: working with food, the human body, life sciences and culture. Most projects, which have been about food and eating all address social, cultural or environmental issues.
I just love working with food in combination with other disciplines because food is the most intimate form of design.
Why and how did you develop the concept?
At the beginning of my final degree project I was thinking of different ways of making eating more efficient and sustainable, starting from the digestive system and actual absorption of food. I needed answers to a lot of questions that were too specific to find on the Internet, which is why I contacted scientists from TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research). Instead of answering my questions, they were so enthusiastic about my portfolio and previous food projects that they offered me a graduate spot, where I was challenged to think about new 3D printed food concepts.
I took on the challenge, worked together with bio-technologists, scientists and additive manufacturing experts and developed several innovative food concepts in which I tried to combine my research and previous experiences and knowledge about food. Edible Growth is one of these concepts.
You’ve done a lot of work with food. Would you call yourself a foodie? Or more of an environmentalist?
I think I’m a bit of both, but definitely more a foodie. I really love to cook, experiment with new ingredients and have the strong urge to acquire knowledge about food, eating, gardening and preparation methods. I also like to visit (experimental) food festivals about fermentology or molecular cooking for example.
Is the printer something people could go out and buy for their homes?
The printer on the picture with the different stages of Edible Growth actually doesn’t exist at this point. Due to time and monetary constrains we could not develop the project beyond the research and development stages. Before Edible Growth can actually be printed, the technology should be further researched and developed. The prototypes are therefore partly made by hand.
However, we did do a lot of experiments with seeds, edible breeding grounds, fermentation processes and mushrooms to find ways to prevent contamination, and looked into the effects of different breeding grounds. I also did many form studies and printing tests with insect paste for the crust.
Do you think the food industry is becoming better at sustainable production?
I think the food industry is often more interested in their own profit than the wellbeing of people, animals or the environment. There is a better chance that small, local start-ups will make an actual difference in sustainable and fair production because they don’t have innumerable layers of bureaucracy and are not jet intertwined in interests between suppliers, government agencies and fellow businesses which make the change in production more difficult for big companies in the food industry. But without the support and conscious choice of consumers, such small initiatives will have no chance either.
How do you think the industry be better, and how could restaurants and chefs partake?
I think in general, all parties should stop filling people and start feeding people. With the current obesity epidemic I think the industry but also restaurants have the responsibility to educate people about healthy food without a lot of additives, sugar and carbohydrates. I think all people should appreciate food more instead of taking it for granted. Once they get used to the richness of unprocessed, healthy food they will taste better and get much more energy.
What’s next for you?
Last summer I started my own company; Chloé Rutzerveld Food & Concept design. Before I will decide what kind of Masters to study I’ll first do some projects for different companies to find out what it is I would like to do after my Masters. I’ve worked for Eurest-Compass group on the High Tech Campus to organize a theme dinner about sustainability of which I first studied and mapped their waste streams, current sustainability initiatives and cooperation between the employers. I’m also busy with the preparations for the Dutch Design Week, where Edible Growth is exhibited as well.