Soon you may grow ingredients for a healthy meal right inside your kitchen within a span of a week, thanks to scientists who have developed a new 3D-printed device that provides a novel way to produce food at home.
The first prototype of the device called CellPod developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in the UK, is already producing a harvest.
The device resembles a design lamp and is ideal for keeping on a kitchen table.
“Urbanisation and the environmental burden caused by agriculture are creating the need to develop new ways of producing food – CellPod is one of them,” said Lauri Reuter, VTT research scientist.
“It may soon offer consumers a new and exciting way of producing local food in their own homes,” said Reuter.
The idea of the CellPod concept is based on growing the undifferentiated cells of a plant rather than a whole plant.
In other words, only the best parts of a plant are cultivated. These cells contain the plant’s entire genetic potential, so they are capable of producing the same healthy compounds – such as antioxidants and vitamins – as the whole plant.
The nutritional value of a cloudberry cell culture, for example, is similar to or even better than that of the berry itself. The taste still needs development – at the moment it is very mild and neutral, researchers said.
So far, VTT has used cells from its own culture collection to grow Arctic bramble cells, cloudberry cells and stone bramble cells in the CellPod.
The bioreactor also enables the production of healthy food from plants other than traditional food crops, such as birch.
The development of tailored cell lines is also possible, in which case nutritional characteristics can be developed according to need.
On the other hand, the optimisation of growth conditions, such as light and temperature, can also affect the compounds produced by the cells – just like in nature.