2018/10/09: In the past few years, California has emerged as a global leader in tackling climate change through agricultural policy. One of its most successful programs to date has been the State Water Efficiency Enhancement Program, known as SWEEP. The first program of its kind in the country, SWEEP provides financial incentives to farmers to improve irrigation management in ways that both save water and reduce emissions. So far, the greenhouse gas emissions reductions the program is projected to achieve over its lifetime are equivalent to taking nearly 65,000 passenger vehicles off the road. However, state funding for the program hasn’t kept up with farmer demand. In the first three years, applications outnumbered awards by a nearly three-to-one ratio. And since drought faded from the headlines, funding for the program is in question.
Similarly promising, but struggling, is another first-of-its-kind climate-smart agriculture program: The Healthy Soils Initiative. This initiative offers financial assistance to farmers for a whole suite of practices that sequester carbon in soils, from reducing tillage to planting perennial vegetation to adding a thin layer of compost to the land. Although small, this program has been celebrated far beyond California as a particularly promising win-win policy, since carbon sequestered in soils not only reduces the burden on the atmosphere, but actually improves soils’ fertility and capacity to support healthy crops.
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
2018/09/11: The future of food in the world will depend on what Africa does with agriculture.
one recent study estimates that elevated carbon dioxide (co2) could cause an additional 33.6 million in sub-Saharan Africa to become zinc deficient and another 16 million protein deficient by 2050 if levels continue to increase unabated. Today, an estimated 60 million African children under 5 years old are stunted due to inadequate nutrition.
Africa contributes little to global greenhouse gas emissions, but is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change due to its weak ability to adapt to related weather impacts, as well as its dependence on rain-fed agriculture.
A range of actions across sectors is needed to ensure the sustainability of Africa’s food and land use systems - and the health and well-being of millions of children.
2018/08/30: Reese, an assistant professor of anthropology at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, has joined a number of scholars who are pushing back against the food desert model. She calls it a “lazy” shorthand to describe both a series of corporate decisions and a complex human ecosystem.
“Language matters,” says Reese, who explores these issues in a new book, Black Food Geographies, due out next year. Use the wrong words to describe the problem and you end up with one-dimensional solutions that don’t address the root causes of poor diets.
Both the U.S. and British governments have emphasized supermarket-building as a way out of their country’s nutrition woes.
Yet there’s “limited causal evidence” that this strategy improves diets, according to a 2017 report by economists from New York University, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago.
They analyzed food-purchase data to understand the complex reasons why affluent Americans eat healthier than their poorer counterparts and concluded that leveling the grocery field would “reduce nutritional inequality by only 9 percent.”
Hunger and obesity occur simultaneously within the same urban populations, a growing trend known as the 'Malnutrition Cocktail.'
The 3D printer is a double-edged sword. It stands to transform technology and society for the better, but we also can't ignore the potential negative consequences.
Inside the hyperengineered, savagely marketed, addiction-creating battle for American "stomach share."
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Food waste has become a moral issue in my household. An ardent recycler, my wife admirably seeks ways to reduce the amount of trash our family generates. When I get lazy and toss some food scrap into the garbage can, rather than the green waste bin, she dutifully pulls it out and puts it in the right place.
History of vegetables reaches the most distant years of modern humankind, when hunter gatherers exited the Africa and started spreading across entire planet earth. As the birth of modern human civilizations, vegetables were identified as the sourced of great medicinal and nutritional power. Potato From the first moment European explorers got their hands on potato, Read More...
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.
Like most people, I had no idea Juicero existed until very recently. In fact, I found out about the whole conundrum just this morning. Quick refresher for those of you who (like me until this
The debate heats up over carrageenan, the additive derived from seaweed.
Janez Potocnik was unable to convince his fellow commissioners to publish a strategy for a sustainable food system.
According to a new report by the National Resources Defense Council, the United States throws away a staggering 40% of the food it produces every year. There are a number of culprits for this: restaurants and bakeries which throw away what's left uneaten or isn't sold, people who buy more groceries than they can use (you know who you are), food distributors who throw out whole pallets when things go bad in transit. But one of the major reasons we produce so much food waste is supermarkets.
The risk assessment posits that just three disasters in close succession could lead to global food shortages, riots and political instability.
A scientific model has suggested that society will collapse in less than three decades due to catastrophic food shortages if policies do not change.
The Sustainable Food Trust, founded by Patrick Holden, is a global voice for sustainable food systems, aiming to empower communities with sustainable ideas, and push for government policy changes.
This leaf is packed with nutrients, grows in dry tropic climates where people are malnourished, and appeals to affluent health buffs, too.