Do you write off ‘food porn’? Do you see the growing trend of people posting photos of their food on social media, as the ultimate form of annoying self-promotion? New research suggests it is actually transforming the way we eat.

Food Porn is simply taking a photo (or selfie) of your coffee, meal or latest food creation.

A new book, Eat Grow Cook, edited by a team from QUT, details how food and technology are coming together to create new ways of sourcing, preparing, consuming and enjoying food.

The future looks mind-blowingly delicious, says co-editor Jaz Hee-jeong Choi.

“Food is such an important part of our lives, and increasingly we are turning to technologies to enhance and experiment with food experiences,” Dr Choi said.

“We have been using technology since the beginning of time to transform the way we eat, and the `food porn’ selfie is just another expression of that use. It’s another way to share and talk about food culture with other people.

“And when you consider the emerging technologies that are already making an impact, there is definitely a fascinating time ahead of us.”

Major food-plus-technology advancements to watch out for include:

Would you like an iPod with that?

Technology is being used to enhance or change the way we feel about eating food and how we perceive to experience it. For example, experimental chef Heston Blumenthal uses the sound of the seaside to enhance the flavour of one of his seafood dishes served at his restaurant, The Fat Duck. Other researchers fed soggy crisps to diners who listened to the sound of a crisp chip being bitten. They reported that the crisps did taste fresh. When dining out, expect to soon be served senses-enhancing technology along with your main course.

Glowing sushi:

Altering food at the molecular level will extend the range and playfulness of our food. Transgenic fish that glow under UV light is already being made into glowing sushi. Expect kitchens to become more like chemistry labs, with the recent popularity of molecular gastronomy spilling over into everyday food preparation technology.

Bug burgers:

Social media is changing the way people feel about eating insects, with entomophagy communities growing and talking up the potential of insects to solve world food shortages. Moves are underway to use 3D printing to create socially acceptable-looking and tasting food out of protein made from insects.

People power:

Food communities and specialist apps are already available to help people make more ethical, sustainable and healthier food sourcing decisions, including growing-your-own. For example, food logging app Meal Snap, food image analyser Eatery or consumer guide Shop Ethical!. Expect this to continue to develop, with apps that will define your food content, or help you find alternate food sources in the city, and direct you to a community of likeminded people with which to enjoy your feast.

“Digital and network technologies are creating new forms of sociality around food. We’re facing a new historic turn in human-food relationship,” Dr Choi said.

“This growing interest in food as a way to wellbeing could be traced to negative events such as the Chinese melamine-tainted milk deaths, or the `killer cucumbers’ carrying E coli, or the horsemeat burger scandal. People have learnt that it is possible and helpful to use technologies to find out information about food security, and to improve the knowledge they have around how their food is sourced.

“It will definitely allow us to be more playful with food culture, and it will revolve around individuals feeling they have a way to achieve a new sense of wellbeing.”

Eat, Cook, Grow will be published by The MIT Press later in the year.

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