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Innovations at the dining table

Phones that analyze the chemical composition of food, virtual nutritionists and 3D printers promise a new era of health and wellness at the dining table.

A famous aphorism by the nineteenth-century German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach says "We are what we eat" but to maintain a healthy and proper diet, even nowadays, is one of the main challenges of this age, at least in the West. We all agree in fact that it is quite difficult to hold your fork while referring to nutritional tables and food programs. Today, however, a growing number of technologies could make this mission possible.  SCIO for example, a cuff spectrometer built by the Israeli start-up Consumer Physics, allows you to control the quality and the calories of what you are eating with a simple scan from your mobile phone. NutriMe, on the other hand, is an all-Italian app for tablet and smartphone that provides a virtual nutritionist that can suggest, day by day, what to eat basing its advice on our food preferences, allergies, and diets.  Another breakthrough in terms of health and wellbeing at the dining table could come in the future from 3D printers such as the model presented in May during Seeds & Chips, a convention dedicated to food innovation. The aforementioned device is able to transform excess milk into cheese and to prepare food for those who cannot swallow or are intolerant to certain ingredients.«The most important factor in correct dieting is to adopt a comprehensive approach - explains CREA’s (the Council for Research in Agriculture) Laura Rossi, one of the most respected Italian experts on nutrition - no ingredient in itself is good or bad. There are risks connected to the excessive intake of certain elements but all of them can be included in a balanced diet. In the scientific community, we are not fond of the contraposition between good and bad, or the antithesis between good plant versus bad animal. There is no such thing as a healthy food per se. What we should aim at is a diet structured to be healthy on the whole».