• Ombeline Choupin

How tech will revolutionize the way we eat - Part 3/3

Solving the logistics problem of the global food production system

Written for Entrepeneur Handbook in October 2013

If there were only one thing I remembered about the Food and Tech Hackathon that took place in SF last November, it would definitely be this: food production has a very long timeframe. It can have an impact over next generations and civilizations.

There is a greater and greater need in the world for high-quality food. In developed countries, more and more people want healthy and tasty food, whereas developing countries such as Mexico are realizing that their adaptation to Western eating habits are making their populations suffer.

On the other hand, one of the great missions of our time will be to find ways to feed more than 9 billion people in 2050.

We must make higher-quality food more scalable!

Easy to say, you might think: feeding that many people must imply the mass production of unhealthy food and the killing of oh how many baby chicks that will be swallowed by a giant egg-gathering machine.

Think differently. Nowadays, 1/3 of the food produced in the world every year for human consumption is lost or wasted. The problem is not that we do not produce enough: it’s that the world is not logistically well organized.

Why has no one tried making high-quality food scalable before? Simply because there was no substantial demand for it. That has changed, because now everyone wants to eat properly, possibly without destroying the planet on the short term.

Unfortunately, it’s also getting harder and harder to know if you’re eating ethical food. The organic label, for example, is losing some of its aura. Just because something is branded as organic doesn’t mean it is good for the Earth. Take, for example, the production of organic wine in France. It actually destroys the soil, because the quantity of fertilizer that it doesn’t use is replaced with a huge amount of sulfur, which can ruin the soil for several years after.

That is where tech can help.

First, data analytics could be used to analyze the food production process throughout the world and to establish better distribution patterns so that food doesn’t get wasted along the way. Research in food processing tech can help keep ingredients fresh for long journeys.

Second, nutritionists’ researches about the right consumption patterns should be reflected on the food production choices we make. For instance, it is a largely accepted fact that people in Western countries eat too much meat and too many eggs. 1.8 trillion eggs are produced every year in the world, many of which are harvested in dreadful conditions, whereas vegetables remain an expensive and apparently complicated produce. Why not eat the veggies we feed the poor chicken ourselves?

Third, tech can make local food production available to anyone. Social media or websites for farmers who like to produce their own food are coming to life. In line with the rise of the global sharing economy, Farm Hack is an open source community for resilient agriculture that organizes meetings between farmers and helps them build their own agricultural machines. On a more individual scale, SoilIQ is an easy to use box that indicates whether your soil is good to grow what you choose.

That is how tech and food will make the world a happier, healthier place.

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