Looking Back to Look Forward: Milestones in Food Technology

Looking Back to Look Forward: Milestones in Food Technology

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  • June 2, 2022
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  • 5 minutes read


June 2, 2022: At this time, scientists are developing new tools that will improve the availability, safety, nutrition, and environmental impact of the food we eat in 50 years. They are exploiting a vein that dates back to prehistoric times, when the first hunter-gatherers began to cultivate. Discoveries have come fast and heavy since the Industrial Revolution:

1784: Easy flour (er). In Philadelphia, Oliver Evans invented the first fully automated, water-powered flour mill. Across the Atlantic Ocean at about the same time, Scottish inventor Andrew Meikle devised the first mechanical thresher for harvesting wheat.

1810: Efficient and effective food preservation. The “tin canister” was invented in England. In 1812, the first commercial cannery in the United States was opened. Canned food fed the military on the 19thth large-scale wars of the century, and then expanded to the public.

1863: A major breakthrough in food security. Louis Pasteur invented the process of killing germs that would bear his name.

1924: Clarence Birdseye invented you know what. Fast frozen vegetables, that’s what.

1927: This refrigerator facilitated cooling at home. Although electric refrigeration had been invented a decade earlier and some domestic models existed, it took a while for a mass-produced refrigerator to notice. Once it did, refrigeration revolutionized the way we buy, store, and cook food.

1928: better than … The first mechanically cut bread was sold by Chillicothe Baking Company of Missouri. But he did not become one what until Wonder hit the market in 1930, the first sliced ​​bread distributed nationwide.

1950: The Green Revolution. The end of World War II ushered in a new era of agriculture, in which technological innovations led to great leaps in production. Factories that had been producing ammonia for explosives were converted to produce nitrogen for chemical fertilizers. Between 1950 and 1998, the use of these fertilizers increased more than 10 times worldwide. During this period in the US, the use of insecticides increased by a similar amount. And while mules and horses outperformed tractors on farms by almost 5: 1 in 1945, in 1960, more tractors worked than animals. Thanks to these and other advances, America now has a third of the farms we had before World War II, but they produce three times as much food.

1967: Enter the microwave. Amana introduced the Radarange, the first microwave oven small enough and affordable for home use. It was another way to make home cooking easier and also created a whole new market for frozen dinners. (Microwave popcorn did not hit the market until 1981.)

1992: A Growing Practice: Precision Agriculture. This relatively new farming practice uses cutting-edge technology to make specific agricultural decisions for each farm, and even for each field. By focusing on the five Rs the right source of nutrients, at the right pace, at the right place, at the right time, in the right way: it produces higher yields using less soil, water and fertilizer, along with fewer herbicides and pesticides.

1994: GMOs hit stores. A tomato became the first genetically modified organism (GMO) product to hit the market. It was designed to stand firm after harvest, which meant it could mature in the vineyard for longer without being damaged during shipment. In the coming years, transgenic summer squash, soybeans, corn, papaya, potatoes and canola will follow.

1999: Rising agriculture for sustainability. Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier, PhD, conceptualized vertical farming. The practice, which cultivates indoor crops at vertically stacked and climate-controlled levels, is expected to reach nearly $ 10 billion in sales by 2025.

2002: The protein of the future? The first meat grown in the laboratory is successfully grown from a goldfish. Although it was a great technological breakthrough, it was not sold for public consumption: would you like to eat a goldfish?

2009: Unwanted result of innovations. As food manufacturers continued to refine their methods, the products they created received a new term: “ultra-processed foods.” They have been linked to the obesity epidemic and the growth of type 2 diabetes, among other public health problems. In 2018, these foods provided 57% of the calories Americans ate each day.

2019: A vegan burger that bleeds. After 5 years of experimentation, Impossible Foods introduced Impossible Burger, an herbal cake that mimics the taste, texture, and appearance of minced meat to a strange degree. Yes, it is ultra-processed.



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