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Open Questions and Challenges

During this project, I wondered about the implications of food having the capacity of reading our personal biometric data and analyzing it. Food could have the ability to access memory stored about what and how we eat. Today, diet culture is a heavy driving force in people’s lives, whereby some are so strongly affected by it that they develop eating disorders and seriously affect their mental and physical health. Current trackers like food-and-activity-tracking applications, FitBits, Apple Watches, and more, are double-edged swords, as they can help people better understand their health to them improve it but also cause them to become unhealthily obsessed by the numbers. A device embedded in technology providing direct, continuous feedback similar to what FitBits do could amplify this situation. Because of how personal the data shown would be, it can be much more accurate and precise on how certain foods affect your body. However, because of how much more personalized and accurate the information is, certain people may become more conflicted with how they interact with food, and further feed unhealthy food thoughts and habits.

Besides affecting our relationship to food, attaching technological devices onto our food raises ethical questions. Should we allow our food to collect invasive data about how our bodies change during food consumption? Should it be able to direct us towards “healthier” habits, as though it was coaching us like a nutritionist would? There is a lot of memory-tracking happening in our world today, and tracking yet another aspect of our lives could only serve to further overwhelm us with digitized data and drive us to rely on technology to remind us of our habits, instead of us making the effort of keeping track of our own practices.

Moreover, we tend to have highly memorable experiences with food, since they are multisensory interactions with reality with several more triggers to remembering them that could be activated. More specifically, such memories tend to be of meals shared with loved ones. Could a device tracking how and what we eat embedded in our food change our interactions with others we share meals with? Being able to better see the direct effects of certain foods on us can educate us and help us make healthier food choices. But when we crave fast food or high-caloric food with little nutrition value, could we become more driven to feel guilt and try our best not to eat them, or think about how badly they affect our bodies? As someone who knows people with eating disorders, I am aware that thinking about how food affects one’s body is an obsession for most that interfere with how they share moments with loved ones around food. Bonding through food --whether manifested in cooking or eating together, or preparing a dish for someone else-- is a beautiful time to share culture and express affection to loved ones. Further meddling with food so that we have easier access to how it biometrically changes us could interfere with that.

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