Originally Posted by chator
I think Archer and Trip's steak in that episode was real, otherwise why have a chef? I think in ENTERPRISE some, but not all food on ENTERPRISE was replicated. This was due to an attempt by the show's creators to demonstrate that things were different in the 22nd century vs. the 24th century where over-reliance on technology prevails.
Yep, food was real in ENT, the superb chef was mentioned several times but never seen (until Riker played him in his holodeck program in the series finale). Even in the 23rd century, food synthesizers seem to be the exception. Otherwise there wouldn't have been wheat in "Trouble for Tribbles".
About that episode, I think the main intention was to remind us the Vulcans are veggies, that humankind is not so evolved yet (I guess that less meat is eaten in the future or at least more meat is synthesized / replicated) and to show us that the Prime Directive which includes the respect for other lifeforms is a Vulcan rather than a human idea. Not so sure about the last part though as Denobulans also practice the Prime Directive and Phlox happily fed tribbles to his animals or snacked a caterpillar which was originally meant to be food for his animals as well.