2018/09/28: While it is commendable to strive to reduce the ecological footprint of cities some realism is called for. For their provisions and waste disposal, cities need forest, agricultural, marine, and wetland ecosystems on lands many hundred times the area of the city itself.[xxii] If we are serious about feeding the cities more locally, we should look more to the perimeters of the city and to the interplay between cities and their hinterland. It is here that there really is a potential to feed the cities.
Silicon Valley meats Hollywood That is the best description of how we will get food in the future if we would believe the impressive number of food tech start-ups which will produce food without soil or animals. But few of them deliver on their exaggerated promises.
Because of how badly we humans have treated soils and animals it is understandable that people now are looking for other ways of producing food. Under banners of digital ecosystems, open source, individual foods, actionable intelligence, disruptive food systems and digital transformation, there are legions of entrepreneurs (mostly with background in the IT sector) seeking venture capital and researchers looking for grants.
3-D printing of food is expensive, incredibly slow and not capable of making most of the food we like to eat - today. Perhaps it will in the futures. My concern is rather that 3-D printing of food and robocooks seems to be far-fetched solutions to marginal problems, and it certainly has nothing to do with “solving the world’s largest food and farming problems”.
I turn my attention to methods of primary production which are not soil or animal based (I will leave wild foods and fisheries outside of the discussion).
Few people seem to realize that lab-foods also need a feedstock, and the companies marketing the products are mostly silent regarding the raw materials used. To grow maize as a feedstock for ‘artificial’ food or to produce chicken is not so very different. Chicken production, in many parts of the world, is already landless production, a kind of feed converter factory. And it is obvious that you can do a similar thing with fungi or bacteria. It is not obvious, however, that the process will be much more efficient (but possibly more ethically acceptable).
Tissue culture of beef is currently done on a serum extracted from unborn calves and it also involves the use of antibiotics.[v] Other resource demands are rarely documented, so the claims of being resource efficient still needs to be proven.
Though the cultivation of algae using man-made or natural ponds was initially simple, turning it into a viable feedstock has always been problematic. So our industry has always needed a system that could enable higher production levels, lower capital and operating costs, greater biomass density, better environmental control, and above all, industrial scalability.”[vi] Even bio-fuels could be made from algae, but the cost of production is prohibitive and would use enormous areas and water resources. In addition, it is very energy consuming and CO2 emissions caused would be much bigger than for fossil fuels. Therefore, almost all algae entrepreneurs are producing nutritional supplements and other specialty products which have prices two orders of magnitude higher than fuel or staple food.
Much aquaculture today is based on predatory fish, such as salmon, which are fed on undersized caught wild fish, other fish leftovers and fodder from agriculture. There is not a dramatic difference between modern fish farming and broiler production.
For aquaculture to really play a meaningful role in feeding a growing population in a sustainable way, we need systems that integrate aquaculture and farming. Such systems have developed over a long time in Asia where rice, fish and vegetables have been grown in the same system, sometimes also including ducks or pigs. There are also modern versions of such systems under development.
An extreme version of hydroponics are indoor vertical farms in cities. But the fact that it is possible doesn’t mean it is viable on a larger scale, and even less that it will take place in the cities. Vertical hydroponic farms are totally dependent on inputs that will need to be transported in, they are not part of any ecological context in the city, and if they are large, the crops will be put into the normal food distribution networks. In that sense, they are like any other assembly plant. And, like any other assembly plants, they are better located outside of city centres. But the rational for stacking crops on top of each other is gone where land prices are lower.
But it has little relevance for feeding the population, which is underscored by that the commercial application are all about growing baby lettuce, pak choy or herbs, crops which provide almost no food energy or proteins.
those technologies are not integrated into the ecological web of the city, rather the opposite, they need to be sealed off even from the people and the water used mus
2018/09/19: Just after the California bill was introduced, the farm equipment manufacturers started circulating a flyer titled “Manufacturers and Dealers Support Commonsense Repair Solutions.” In that document, they promised to provide manuals, guides, and other information by model year 2021. But the flyer insisted upon a distinction between a right to repair a vehicle and a right to modify software, a distinction that gets murky when software controls all of a tractor’s operations.
As Jason Koebler of Motherboard reported, that flyer is strikingly similar—in some cases, identical word-for-word—to the agreement the Farm Bureau just brokered. The flyer and the agreement list the same four restrictions:
No resetting immobilizer systems.
No reprogramming electronic control units or engine control modules.
No changing equipment or engine settings that might negatively affect emissions or safety.
No downloading or accessing the source code of any proprietary embedded software.
These restrictions are enormous. If car mechanics couldn’t reprogram car computers, a good portion of modern repairs just wouldn’t be possible.
2018/01/22: There is a long-term battle being fought between proponents of food democracy and food control. An Uberisation of the food system is occurring, in which the controllers of the software capture the majority of the value.
The food system is dependent on self-exploitation by its workers. It’s not a good system.
Something like 75% of the value in the food sector is captured beyond the farm gate.
Government benefits for the low waged working in the food processing and retail sector are an implicit subsidy to the process/retail industry.
We need shorter food chains.
France does a better job than the UK of controlling land concentration and retaining small-scale agriculture. But is it at the expense of accepting a patriarchal gerontocracy?
When faced with a 50-50 choice between investing in labour or investing in machinery, farm managers usually opt for machinery.
Machinery is generally high cost and large scale (= labour saving). The result is that the farm landscape is fitted to the machinery, rather than fitting the machinery to the farm landscape.
Much of the time, machinery sits in the shed. It can do the job it’s designed to do much more quickly and cheaply than human labourers. But without human labourers, much additional environmental work that could be done on the farm – hedging, ditching, woodland management etc. – doesn’t get done.
Nobody wants to work on farms any more.
Lots of people want to work on farms, but the opportunities are limited.
Working on farms is now a lonely occupation – and more dangerous, because of the human lack.
We need to grow more vegetables in the UK.
The UK government’s recent agricultural policy emphasised the need to ‘Grow more, sell more and export more’. Actually we should be trying to grow better, sell better and eat better.
New entrants to farming somehow need access to land. Or do they?
Dispersed grazing provides opportunities for new entrants.
Secure agricultural tenancy rights would take the heat out of the battle to secure access to land.
But there would be a hot battle to gain secure agricultural tenancy rights.
How milk prices got so low that farmers started receiving suicide hotline numbers with their payments--and what Congress can do to fix it.
The prehistoric shift towards cultivation began our preoccupation with hierarchy and growth - and even changed how we perceive the passage of time
Average land use area needed to produce one unit of protein by food type, measured in metres squared (m194178) per gram of protein over a crop's annual cycle or the average animal's lifetime. Average values are based on a meta-analysis of studies across 742 agricultural systems and over 90 unique foods.
If humanity expects to feed its booming population off a static amount of farmland, it's going to need help.
While engineers are scrambling to come up with grand geo-engineering schemes, they may be overlooking a simpler, less glamorous solution: Soil
As more devices and equipment incorporate software into their operating systems, repairers are finding themselves caught up in copyright law.
The geography reflects the economic crisis of the 1970s, not the 2010s It became clear early on in the night that Leave had extraordinary levels of support in the North East, taking 70% of the votes in Hartlepool and 61% in Sunderland. It subsequently emerged that Wales had voted for Leave over
We are being told to eat local and seasonal food, either because other crops have been tranported over long distances, or because they are grown in energy-intensive greenhouses. But it wasn't always like that. From the sixteenth to the twentieth century, urban farmers grew Mediterranean fruits and vegetables as far north as England and the Netherlands, using only renewable energy. These crops were grown surrounded by massive "fruit walls", which stored the heat from the sun and released it at night, creating a microclimate that could increase the temperature by more than 10194176C (18194176F). Later, greenhouses built against the fruit walls further improved yields from solar energy alone. It was only at the very end of the nineteenth century that...
Genetic study reveals that two-thirds of European men can be traced back to just three individuals who lived between 3,500 and 7,300 years ago.
Not all farmers are cool with their livelihood being the "new cool."
Record-breaking heat waves, long-term drought, "100-year floods" in consecutive years, and increasingly extreme superstorms are becoming the new normal. The planet is now facing an unprecedented era of accelerating and intensifying global climate change, with negative impacts already being widely felt. While global climate change will impact nearly everyone and everything, the greatest impact is already being felt by farmers and anyone who eats food. - By Ryan Zinn
The humble spud has been a main attraction on our dinner plates for over 500 years. Are its days numbered?
People say we're "rich in other ways," but that doesn't fix the ugly fact that most farms are unsustainable
After Decades of Failure During the second half of the twentieth century, the deforestation of the tropics became a global concern. Young people everywhere learned at an early age that "saving the rainforest" was one of the most urgent needs of the planet. Yet, for decades, these worries had no real effect on the reality
Thanks to farm weddings, agrotourism, and Chipotle, agriculture seems downright glamorous. The truth is much dirtier than that.
This journalist is embarking on a project that will use unmanned drones to fly over and document large factory animal farms.