By T. Bracken & N. Mahon

With the growing population of unhealthy Americans basing their diets from McDonald’s dollar meals, their health is rapidly declining.  The kitchen of the future need to help the growing diet induced epidemic while giving Americans the same cheap, hassle free, fast, convenient, no thinking mentality that brings people to fast food chains. With the integration of adapted technology, this type of kitchen design is certainly possible.

The American Past

Our diet has changed dramatically since the 1930’s, when we first started to change from natural farming processes, developed over 1000’s of years, to scientific farming processes. These changes have run in parallel with lifestyle changes, disease pattern changes and food processing changes. In the early days people got ill through lack of nourishment. Nowadays infectious illnesses are less common due to immunization and antibiotics but people now suffer from more chronic illnesses such as diabetes and chronic heart disease due to living longer and lifestyle choices including diet. Click here to learn more.

Diet Trends Today

Poor diet trends are having injurious impacts on society’s health:

  • A poor diet can lead to obesity, hypertension, diabetes and other health-related complications. These conditions are major contributors to skyrocketing medical costs in America, and they can be prevented or modified by dietary changes. A diet rich in alcohol, saturated fat and sugar increases the risk of diseases such as cancer.”  Also having a physical, psychological and socio-economical impact on Americans. “All of these risks are decreased if you consume a diet rich in vegetables, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.” Click here to learn more.
  • Currently, the fast food is a driving force behind many health issues American are faced with today. This industry alone is creating a diet-related health epidemic which is escalating at a rapid speed. “Over 25 percent of Americans consume these foods frequently.  Fast foods contain high amounts of calories, saturated and trans fats, sodium salt and processed sweeteners that increase your risk for chronic diseases. Fast foods also contain low amounts of vitamins and minerals.” Click here to learn more.
  • As shown in the diagram, when children start eating these foods in their youth, their health only deteriorates further into their adulthood.
    Photo Courtesy of Corporate Accountability International

    The industry is starting to see the need for a change in order to help this epidemic.  “Most fast food chains now offer nutrition information for their offerings and guides to making healthier food choices. Organic and natural options have appeared on some menus, and several chains offering natural and organic fast food meals have sprouted up around the country. To learn more, click here.

  • Additionally, nutritional information is readily available on the internet which may help customers choose a healthier option.

Thoughts on the Future

The future Kitchen will have to address these growing issues. It is likely to be very different due to an increased interest in where and how our food originates and how it is killed / cooked / prepared. We believe the future of kitchen designs lies with good nutrient rich food becoming more accessible and convenient. In order to truly help this problem, the number of fast food locations need to be limited. This will make this “poisonous” food harder to access.  While the restaurants have started to offer healthier options, the other options still [K1] hold a position on the menu.  Let’s be honest the French Fries certainly does taste much better than the salad.  So, we think that the kitchen of the future needs to be able to offer the same cheap, hassle free, fast, convenient, no thinking food that brings people to fast food chains. [K2] With the integration of technology we think that this is certainly possible.  Currently there some of the products that are in the trail stages that we think are a step in the right direction are:

Image Courtesy of The Design Blog

Food fabrication – Allows you to fabricate nutrient rich foods right in your own kitchen, layer by layer, in the same way an inkjet printer prints on a piece of paper. So instead of buying manufactured food items at the store, you may instead just “print” them. For example, you would simply download the 3D blueprint, then “print” the muffins on the food fab machine. For more information, click here.

Ikeas collaboration with The Future Laboratory – This reactive environment takes advantage of a number of sensor-based technologies designed to help users make more sustainable and healthy decisions around food. For more information, click here.

Image Courtesy of PSFK

GE’s All-In-One Kitchen Appliance – A large touchscreen display, it features touch sensors that are spread across the entire surface, OLED primary lighting, and purifies water via ultraviolet light. This eco-friendly kitchen also allows you to load up dishwashing detergent in bulk and dispenses it using algorithms to minimize leftover cleaning agents in wastewater. To learn more, click here

“Yummy” Kitchen Connect – You tell the device your diet and your favorite recipes, and it hook you up to the blogosphere to help recommend what might like for dinner according to your likes and dislikes. Since it keeps track of what food you have your pantry, it can also recommend a shopping list. Find out more here.

Photo Courtesy of Teche Blog

To further along the ideas that have been presented the thought of integrating the All-In-One Kitchen to somehow connect to an App, to make it possible to remotely start dinner and have it ready as soon as you walked in the door. This application would work in conjunction with some of the other technologies we have already discussed. For example it may communicate with the sensory kitchen systems, making accessible healthy food more convenient. Judging by the direction we have taken in relation to the importance of healthcare and wellness, we would like to believe that these future advances will improve the quality of life as they strive to provide the highest level of nutrition to every American household.

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