I was on Facebook today when I came across a video showing off a new piece of technology called the Flatev. The Flatev is essentially a Keurig for tortillas. I found the timing for this video perfect, especially after our hypothetical discussion of growing our own meat in a meat cooker, and the mention of a Keurig for food. I found it funny, and slightly concerning, that this is already beginning done.
The Flatev brands itself as an "artisan tortilla maker." The Flatev looks very similar to a typical Keurig and like a Keurig, it uses pods to turn out fully made tortillas in under 90 seconds. According to an article in Eater Magazine, the pods have in them "commercially-made dough." What is actually in the dough that makes it possible to create tortillas is unclear.
The introduction of this sort of technology into the market raises some questions about the future of food. While many people are praising the technological achievement of such a product, I find it more concerning than anything else. I do not disagree that it would be cool to be able to put a pod into a machine and get ready-made food in return. What worries me though is what is being put into the pods that make it possible for a machine to create food in a minute and a half.
Already America is consuming so much processed food with ingredients we cannot even pronounce. This dietary change is having clear impacts on the health of the population. Heart disease, diabetes and other health problems are on the rise, all of which can be tied back to diet. Therefore if even more highly processed foods, such as instant tortillas, become a diet stable, the effects on health would be even more profound.
On its own, the Flatev is just a cool product and likely will not affect the health of the population. However its technological achievement could indicate the future direction of the food system. If machines like the Flatev, where you get instant food from dough with questionable ingredients, become the norm, then it will be something to worry about. Many food movements are pushing for the emphasis on real food rather than the processed foods that make-up a large portion of the average American’s diet. The idea of creating instant food from the contents of a pod, although cool, is a direct step in the opposite direction of real food. If we want to combat the health problems facing many Americans, we should hope that the Flatev is not the future of food.
I personally would rather spend the extra time to prepare food from ingredients I can see instead of trusting whatever is in a pod, even if it only takes 90 seconds.