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Nanotechnology Could Change How Food Is Made, but Would We Like It?

This could upend traditional cooking methods

Leonid Mamchenkov/Flickr

For years, the science behind cooking involved which ingredients paired best and enhanced the most ideal flavors to achieve a pleasantly palatable dish. The introduction of enhanced technology expanded the scope of what is possible in the food world, with chefs smoking and curing and vacuum-sealing ingredients.

Now, scientists are trying to harness nanotechnology to push the boundaries of engineered food further, to a point where desirable flavors or ingredients could be added without any negative effects, according to

The benefits of such technology are broad: Chefs could acutely enhance the flavors of food. For example, nanotechnology could potentially break down salt while increasing its surface area, and thereby the flavor distribution. That means less salt could be used to achieve the same perception of saltiness. Beyond that, nanotechnology could even mask such flavors as fishiness, meaning healthy but not-so-tasty items like fish oil could be added to foods without spoiling the flavor of a dish.

Given this country's proclivity for debate over modified foods, this nanotechnology could face some opposition. Even disregarding the cost of implementing these processes into modern dining, another issue entirely involves whether the average diner will actively seek or want to eat foods that have been altered. As research into the benefits and potential negatives of such technology continues, diners, chefs, and regulators will have to consider the possibilities.