Please see below selected recent food-related change.
- The food industry has been working for years on tracing food from its source in the field or sea to its final purchase. These traceability efforts are gaining momentum. The UK and France have adopted laws holding companies responsible for human rights abuses that occur in their supply chains. France’s law also covers environmental abuses, as does a new law in Germany that will take effect in 2023. A proposed US Food and Drug Administration regulation would require participants in the food value chain to maintain sortable end-to-end electronic records to be made available upon request within 24 hours during a food-borne outbreak or food recall investigation.
- Plant-based foods are maturing and the industry was projected to hit a US$162bn valuation by 2030.
- Agricultural production is weather-dependent. Heat is a major challenge for crop production. In Bangladesh, two days of extreme heat in 2021 destroyed 68,000 hectares of rice, amounting to losses of $39 million. Indoor farm technology exists now. Synthetic biology technologies can engineer new strains of produce, but these fields are underinvested and lack government support, warned Future Today Institute.
- The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) food price index jumped almost 40% year-on-year in May 2021, marking the 12th consecutive monthly food price rise and the largest increase since 2010, before falling slightly in June. Factors contributing to higher prices include drought in Brazil, dramatically higher grains demand in China, different consumer patterns during the COVID-19 crisis and a policy-driven shift toward biofuels reducing the supply of vegetable oils for food production, reported EY. Market dynamics and global supply chain constraints indicate food prices will likely remain elevated in the coming months, raising the likelihood of social unrest, particularly in countries without a strong social safety net.
- Global food prices increased in May 2021 by 40 percent year-on-year, reaching their highest level in a decade. Food inflation, initially triggered by pandemic-related disruptions, is accelerating in part because of China's growing demand for grains and soybeans, and a severe drought in agricultural powerhouse Brazil.
- The UN World Food Programme released its latest annual and the findings were sobering: 155 million people required food assistance globally in 2020, a five-year high. Some of the worst food-related crises wre in Burkina Faso, South Sudan, and Yemen.
- Burger King has been experimenting with vegetarian options since 2002, when it was the first US chain to introduce a veggie burger nationwide. A newer version - the plant-based Whopper, supplied by The Vegetarian Butcher - is available in over 35 countries across four continents. In mid-2021 Burger King mades one of its restaurants in Cologne, Germany entirely meatless. Working with The Vegetarian Butcher, this outlet will serve items like the plant-based Whopper.
- In 2021, plant-based meat, dairy and eggs outpaced the sales of animal products in the US for the third year in a row. Plant-based meat sales grew twice as fast as those of conventional meat.
- The US Conservation Fund bought land in Georgia in 2016 to develop an unexpected project: the nation's largest free food forest. Thanks to a US Forest Service grant and a partnership between the city of Atlanta, the Conservation Fund, and Trees Atlanta, there are 7.1 acres of land ripe with 2,500 pesticide-free edible and medicinal plants only 10 minutes from Atlanta's airport, the world's busiest airport before the pandemic struck.
- Global food prices reached a six-year high in early 2021, as a result of pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and climate issues - and more recently export restrictions. While the situation isn't yet as bad as in 2007-2008, when sharp increases in food prices triggered civil unrest across many parts of the world, the trend isn't a good one. Food price inflation and, in more extreme cases, the risk of famine, will only exacerbate the challenges of economic collapse and mass unemployment left behind by COVID, warned GZERO Media.
- Chatham House explored the role of the global food system as the principal driver of accelerating biodiversity loss, explaining how food production is degrading or destroying natural habitats and contributing to species extinction. Its paper outlined the challenges and trade-offs involved in redesigning food systems to restore biodiversity and/or prevent further biodiversity loss. The paper introduced three ‘levers’ for reducing pressures on land and creating a more sustainable food system: change dietary patterns to reduce food demand and encourage more plant-based diets; protect and set aside land for nature, whether through re-establishing native ecosystems on spared farmland or integrating pockets of natural habitat into farmland; and shift to more sustainable farming.
- Mealworm burgers, flour and other products could be coming to supermarkets across Europe after the EU’s food safety agency ruled that the insects are fit for human consumption. The sale of insect food products had been prohibited in France, Germany and some other European countries, though edible insect products have been sold on a small scale in some countries, including the UK. Proponents of edible insects point to their relatively high protein content and less resource-intensive production than traditional livestock, and point to widespread consumption in much of the world.
- Global food prices hit a six-year high in December 2020 and were expected to continue rising through 2021, reports Bloomberg, citing U.N. data. Environmental factors, protectionism and strong demand pushed up prices on items like vegetable oil, cereals and dairy. Rising food prices risks increasing inflation and threatens poorer consumers already hurt by the pandemic.Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 820 million people were suffering from hunger as a result of the impacts of climate change, conflict, poverty and, in 2020, locust plagues devastated harvests in dozens of countries. Addressing food insecurity is complicated by the rising recognition of the need to address the triple burden of undernutrition, malnutrition and obesity. Moreover, ensuring sustainable and nutritious food systems must be done equitably. Against this backdrop, Chatham House assessed how governments, civil society, the private sector and multilateral organisations can better build resilience and equity into global food systems.
- According to The Future Normal, the majority of people are forecast to eat more than 3,000 calories per day by 2030, and the global population is set to continue rising to 10 billion by 2050. Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture, while more than one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions stem from agriculture.
- Around 45 million people living in southern Africa do not have enough to eat, according to the World Food Program (WFP), a UN agency. The COVID crisis and the effects of climate change are the main reasons for the uptick in food insecurity, with Zimbabwe being the worst affected country in the region. Around 8.6 million Zimbabweans may not have access to affordable and nutritious food by the end of 2020, the WFP warned.
- The United States alone spends $218 billion every year growing, processing, transporting, and disposing food that is never eaten. The closure of restaurants, hotels, and schools during the coronavirus pandemic caused a huge decline in milk, eggs and other agricultural products made specifically for the food service industry. Farmers have no buyers for their crops. The Dairy Farmers of America estimated that farmers were dumping as many as 3.7 million gallons of milk each day.
- Exponential View noted that perfume manufacturers are getting in on flavourings for the alternative meat market. Analysts predict meat alternatives could make up 10 % of the global meat market in the next decade. Meanwhile, paradigms around consuming meat are changing rapidly. The Impossible Burger, a meat burger substitute “made chiefly of soy and potato proteins and coconut and sunflower oils, is now in seventeen thousand restaurants.”
- Global meat consumption fell faster in 2020 than at any time this century as the pandemic hit spending power and made people think twice about food safety, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Overall meat consumption has risen most years since 2000 thanks largely to a growing taste for it in Asian markets. But Bloomberg said the FAO anticipated a 3 per cent fall in 2020.
- “My goal,” claimed Dutch pharmacologist Mark Post, “is to replace the entirety of livestock production with cultured meat.” It’s an audacious target, noted Prospect, but one that has attracted the investment of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. In 2013 Brin helped fund a $325,000 burger made from in-vitro meat, created in a lab with stem cells. Now Post’s company Mosa Meat plans to make commercially viable cultured meat available to the general public by 2021 (you could get your steak via a 3D printer.) It could have huge benefits for the environment - fewer cows will mean fewer noxious emissions - to say nothing of the animals saved from slaughter, but Post acknowledges that palates may have to adjust before the likes of McDonald’s make the switch.
- The number of people in need of food aid globally could rise to at least 270 million as a result of pandemic-related job losses and vanishing remittances, according to the UN's World Food Program. That's an 82 percent increase over last year, and the WFP says it doesn't have enough money to meet the need.
- Even before the COVID-19 pandemic plunged millions into joblessness, huge numbers of people around world were in danger of losing access to food and shelter. Throughout 2019, Gallup conducted surveys in 142 countries and found that 750 million people - one out of every seven adults in the world - fell into the "High Vulnerability" category, meaning they struggled to afford food or rent and lacked sufficient support from family or friends. Gallup has since published a new Basic Needs Index, which assesses vulnerability to major shocks - like a pandemic, noted GZEROMedia.
- Climate change could affect food production through both continuous environmental changes—for example, increasing temperatures and changes to precipitation patterns—and more frequent episodes of acute stress, such as drought, heat waves, and excessive precipitation. The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing weaknesses in the global food system which McKInsey found is already vulnerable to climate change as a growing population depends on four key crops with high geographic concentration of production.
- Big Tech companies like Amazon and SoftBank have both invested in vertical farming, the burgeoning industry in which crops are grown in stacked layers inside of enclosed climate-controlled environments. These are like indoor plant factories, where vegetables, fruits and grains are manufactured. This comes at an important time. COVID-19 hit farmers hard, forcing them to destroy crops, throw out perishable food, and slow production at animal farms. But to feed a growing population, the world must increase agriculture production by 70% by 2050 to meet projected demand and traditional farming methods won’t cut it, warned the Future Today Institute, which also noted that:
- MIT researchers are crunching data to come up with “plant recipes.” They’re using sensors and data to improve indoor food production. They're doing this by tracking everything from carbon dioxide and temperature to water and plant tissue health, and they're analysing the best conditions and systems for tastier food.
- Researchers are growing food without soil or water. Indoor vertical plants can grow acres of food inside space the size of a basketball court. Bezos-backed Plenty launched a farm called Tigris that uses 5% of water consumption and 99% less land than traditional farms.
- South Dakota State University is studying the future of precision agriculture and creating new precision agriculture courses set to start in 2021, and University of Illinois researchers are building new prediction models using seasonal climate data and satellite images to help farmers predict crop yields in advance.
- The UN warned of “multiple famines of biblical proportions”. The head of the World Food Programme said that the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating existing food shortages caused by war in places such as Yemen and Syria, and locust swarms in Africa.
- In the US, one of the world's biggest food exporters, almost 12% of households were "food-insecure" and 6.5 million children didn't have enough to eat even before COVID-19 arrived. A report by the US Federal Reserve published in May 2019, a time of strong US economic numbers, found that 27 percent of Americans polled would need to borrow or sell something just to meet an unexpected expense of $400, and 12 percent would have no ability to pay.
- Crops were harvested 10,000 years ago in the Amazon. The discovery changes longstanding theories about the shift away from hunter-gatherer societies.
- A study from Singapore found that intermittent fasting increases neurogenesis. Three groups of rats were tested, with a fourth control group receiving no eating restrictions. One group fasted for 12 hours, another for 16, and the final group fasted for 24 hours (on the second day they ate without restriction as well). All groups were given the same number of calories. The three restricted groups all fared better in terms of hippocampal neurogenesis than the control group and the 16-hour group performed best,
- Subsidising meat means subsidising climate change, earned Quartz, adding that governments shouldn’t prop up animal agriculture when it causes 14% of the world’s greenhouse emissions.
- The 77th Golden Globe Awards served a fully vegan menu to its guests. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the nonprofit behind the awards show, made the menu change in an effort to “signal and draw attention to the issue about climate change.” The Golden Globes was the first award show of its kind to serve a fully vegan meal
- The hidden costs of the current food system are estimated to amount to US$12 trillion a year, rising to US$16 trillion by 2050, according to the integrated and global assessment of the social, economic and health benefits of transforming food and land use systems, by the Food and Land Use Coalition. By comparison, the market value of the global food system is estimated to be US$10 trillion. The report identified the externalities as footed by the environment, by public health, and by land workers and indigenous peoples.
- While there is a widespread shift in the US and Europe towards a more diverse protein offering, these initiatives are often fragmented and isolated, without significant action to reformulate mainstream product ranges or to prioritise sustainable protein within business models. Amidst concurrent growth in meat sales, there is also little action to meet the need to overhaul animal feed production within the meat, dairy and fish sectors.
- According to The New York Times’ guide on food and climate change, livestock accounts for about 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases each year, with beef and lamb having the biggest footprint per gram of protein. As awareness of how meat production harms our environment increases, consumers are taking a closer look at what’s on their plate.
- At least one-third of all food produced for human consumption globally is wasted or lost every year, according to a United Nations report. While enough food is produced to feed everyone on the planet, the hunger rate is rising: 820 million people around the world are "chronically undernourished," the UN says.
- Most of the meat people eat in 2040 will not come from slaughtered animals, according to a report that predicted 60% will be either grown in vats or replaced by plant-based products that look and taste like meat. The report by the global consultancy AT Kearney, based on expert interviews, underlined the heavy environmental impacts of conventional meat production and the concerns people have about the welfare of animals under industrial farming.
- With the rise in popularity of health and fitness has come a flood of fad diets and self-proclaimed “super-foods”. The merits of spirulina, quinoa and kale have been exhaustively covered, but the foodstuffs of tomorrow need to offer more than health benefits; they must help tackle global issues from poverty to climate change. Current trends show a consumer shift away from processed food, lab-made ingredients and extensive meat farming towards clean labelling and veganism, but will this last? And is there more to them than simple fashion?
- As studies suggest a relationship between eating meat and climate catastrophe, more people are changing the way they eat, but this environmentally-friendly diet isn’t necessarily all or nothing, as people increasingly identify as a part-time vegan, climatarian, flexitarian, reducetarian, or various other emerging labels.
- Drastically changing our diets to include less meat over the next 30 years could reduce global carbon emissions by as much as eight billion tons per year, according to a UN report on climate change.
- Many people will stop using plastic straws to save fish, but we won't stop eating fish to save fish? With nearly 5.5 billion fish being caught every day, it's becoming abundantly clear that the fishing methods we're using are having a massive impact on the ocean.
- Genetically modified food will be a necessity to feed the world’s population by 2050, according to research from the World Resources Institute. We will need crops which are both more productive and more resilient if we're going to feed 10 billion people in a rapidly changing climate, and from some that means we need to start investing more today in research on genetic modification.
- Advances in alternative protein technology can help put nutritious food on the table at minimal cost to the environment. In fact, making non-meat burgers can require 95% less land and 74% less water - resulting in even fewer greenhouse gas emissions. As the population grows, we may need to rely more on tech-fuelled innovations to guarantee food for the future.
- Research by academics at the University of Oxford, published in 2016, found that if everyone became vegetarian, food-related emissions would drop by 63 per cent by 2050. And if they went vegan, the drop would be nearer 70 per cent.
- Academics developed low-cost, smartphone-linked, eco-friendly spoilage sensors for meat and fish packaging. The researchers claimed the new sensors could help detect spoilage and reduce food waste for supermarkets and consumers.
- Africa contains 65 percent of the world's arable land, but bad roads, unreliable water supplies, and other complications force African countries to spend $35 billion per year to import food.
- Impossible Foods is on a mission to wipe out animal-meat production by 2035. But as noted in an article in Engadget, the last thing the Silicon Valley company wants to do is nag consumers about ethical eating. Instead, it’s downplaying the vegetarian angle and appealing directly to meat lovers. The company claims that meat tastes "amazing" even as its molecular biologists learn how to try and make plant proteins taste even better.
- In The Way We Eat Now, Bee Wilson suggests that changes in global eating habits since the mid-20th century have brought us to the point at which it is “becoming abundantly clear that the way most of us currently eat is not sustainable- either for the planet or for human health”. While world hunger has declined dramatically, there has been a rapid increase in obesity and diseases such as hypertension and stroke, diabetes and cancer. The causes of this global food crisis are complex. Wilson identifies post-war industrial farming, the increasing dominance of huge multinational food companies and the consequent homogenisation and nutritional impoverishment of the global diet. In addition, social factors such as time scarcity, the ubiquity of ready-made food and the distraction of electronic devices have fundamentally altered our relationship with food, noted Prospect.
- In the West, veganism is on the rise amid worries about unhealthy diets and the environmental impact of eating meat. It’s on the rise in Africa, too, but there, noted Quartz, it’s more about a return to traditional meals. Across the continent, chefs and entrepreneurs are catering to a hunger for the organic food of old.
- Worldwide, warns George Monbiot, huge ships from rich nations mop up the fish surrounding poor nations, depriving hundreds of millions of their major source of protein, while wiping out sharks, tuna, turtles, albatrosses, dolphins and much of the rest of the life of the seas. Coastal fish farming has even greater impacts, as fish and prawns are often fed on entire marine ecosystems: indiscriminate trawlers dredge up everything and mash it into fishmeal.
- Friends of the Earth has argued that if we were designing the global food system from scratch, we'd want to ensure that enough food was grown of the right variety in the right way to fulfil 7 billion – and eventually possibly 9 billion or more – people’s nutritional needs. By using the right techniques, we could protect the natural systems on which future production depends – soil, water and biodiversity – and we would store surplus food for lean times. We could safeguard good governance of this vital system so that producers, consumers and the planet were fairly treated and were protected from any harmful influence.
- Friends of the Earth warns that our current system is dysfunctional. Globally around 50% of food grown is wasted in the field or along the food chain - not even composted or used as feed. A third of all the crops grown and two-thirds of fresh water available are used to grow feed for farm animals. These animals are poor feed converters and the meat is sold cheaply, creating even more demand. Millions of hectares are used to produce biofuels for cars, and a large proportion is used to produce sugary foods. Vast quantities of energy-intensive fertilisers and pesticides are used to drive yield growth in monoculture systems. Natural methods of fertility and pest control are largely neglected or rejected and grain is used as a tool for global financial transactions, not food. Meanwhile, a billion are underfed, a billion suffer effects of over-nutrition, and many farmers and workers cannot gain a decent living.
- FTI warned that, between 1980 - 2008, the global production of maize dropped 3.8% and wheat production fell 5.5%. In 2012, the American Midwest experienced a summer with temperatures comparable to what climatologists project will become the norm by the end of the century. The region’s production of corn fell by 25% and soybeans by 10%. That constitutes about a 4% to 5% drop in total global caloric production - conditions under which we can expect food prices to spike by as much as 30%, according to the MIT Technology Review.
- The Financial Times argued that, around the world, food habits are heading in the wrong direction. Over-consumption is matched by narrower, standardised, industrialised and inappropriate choices. While 1 billion people still go hungry around the globe, twice that number eat too much of the wrong food. Basic cooking knowledge has waned: “home economics” has been abandoned in primary schools; courses in catering focus on theory and health and safety but are slower to mobilise students to actually cook. The rising number of TV cookery shows seems in inverse proportion to the time that people actually spend in the kitchen.
- The Guardian went further, claiming that for most people across the world, life is getting better but diets are getting worse. This is the bittersweet dilemma of eating in our times. Unhealthy food, eaten in a hurry, seems to be the price we pay for living in liberated modern societies. Millions of us enjoy a freer and more comfortable existence than that of our grandparents, a freedom underpinned by an amazing decline in global hunger. Yet our free and comfortable lifestyles are undermined by the fact that our food is killing us, not through lack of it but through its abundance.
- At one time, people ate only food that was local and in season, but not anymore. Food diversity has declined. Food is now homogenised. Never Out of Season examined how dependence on single species of crops threatens human survival. The 2019 book covered the Irish potato famine, “chocolate terrorism,” a desperate race to save seeds for future generations, and more. Scientists have discovered more than 300,000 plant species, but “80% of the calories” people eat come from just a dozen species, and the book warned that pathogens, pests, wars and famine can obliterate a society’s food supply.
- The Financial Times pointed to a growing belief in the value of "clean eating". Having devoured food and drink products promising to provide us with balanced and healthy bodies, we are now thirsty for ones that claim to create balanced and healthy minds. According to a 2018 “Mood to Order” report published by the market researchers Mintel, three quarters of women and 58 per cent of men now agree that what you eat has a direct impact on your emotional wellbeing.
- Further reading:
- According to the Economist – which recently declared 2019 the ‘year of the vegan’ –, a quarter of 25 to 34-year-olds in the US now say they are vegetarian or vegan.
- The worldwide cost of food waste has repercussions far beyond our own trash bins. Among its negative effects on us and on the environment, we can identify: an excess consumption of resources, especially water; increases in carbon emissions; high development and production costs; and widespread, preventable hunger. According to the U.N., one-third of the food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted. That’s 1.3 billion tons of consumables annually.
- Further reading:
- Chatham House warned that global hunger is on the rise, with 821 million undernourished people in the world in 2017, up from 784 million in 2015. With ongoing violence in Yemen, where 12 million people are at risk of starvation at the start of 2019, and economic crisis fuelling food shortages in Venezuela, conflict and economic instability are contributing to global food insecurity around the world.
- Raconteur described an emerging world in which a kit arrives through the letterbox; it contains materials for collecting saliva and blood samples. You swab your cheeks and prick your fingertips, and send your DNA back to the address given. Within four to six weeks you receive a personalised nutrition report detailing how your body responds to all types of food. You’re then sent weekly recipe suggestions that are tailored to your ideal ratio of fat, carbohydrates and protein.
- Land is not the only way to produce food. There is e.g. vertical farming, the practice of producing food in vertically stacked layers. Though nascent, the technology is evolving with commercial ventures such as Plenty, an ag-tech startup backed by SoftBank and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and AeroFarms, ploughing millions into city-based vertical farms, according to Raconteur.
- 1.6 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted worldwide, every year. With an estimated carbon footprint of 3.3 billion tonnes, this food waste eats up 28 per cent of the world’s agricultural area and drinks enough water to fill Lake Geneva three times. Rethinking food waste as a resource, complete with its nutrients, water and energy content, is also transforming the business model of the waste industry complete with its nutrients, water and energy content, is also transforming the business model of the waste industry.
- People in heavy meat consuming regions such as Europe, the US, Russia, and Brazil may have to limit their intake of meat to 1.5 servings per week by 2050 if the planet is to sustainably feed its population and avert runaway climate change. That is one of several key recommendations from a 2018 report which drew on six years of research and modelling, and concluded the scale of the challenge to develop sustainable agricultural practices and secure food supplies may be greater than previously thought. Published by NGO the World Resources Institute, the report estimated that by the middle of the century nearly 60 per cent more food will be needed to feed the planet's growing population.
- Further reading:
- Overweight humans are stretching Earth’s food supply, warned Quartz. Current projections may underestimate the amount of food needed to feed humanity as people grow larger.
- Approximately one third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted, warned Raconteur. This amounts to almost 1.3 billion tonnes. Such a flagrant disregard for the world’s resources is unsustainable, making it imperative that the ingredients of the future help to combat waste levels.
- Food production needs to increase by an estimated 70% to feed the nine billion population projected for 2050. Fortunately, the industry is benefiting from some radical thinking. Raconteur outlined the cutting edge technologies taking farming towards this goal.
- Raconteur also warned that a global population explosion, land shortages, extremes of weather, and even trade wars are just a few of the challenges facing the future of food production. In meeting these challenges, the world of food and its journey from field to fork will undergo transformation and disruption on an unprecedented scale by 2030. Trends in societal and consumer behaviours will be key drivers of this. Social responsibility, once considered a fad, is a commercial reality in the food and beverage marketplace.
- Farms should embrace automation, claimed Quartz, arguing that organic practices do not scale and will not feed the world at an affordable price point.
- The World Bank estimates that 62% of fish for human consumption will come from aquaculture by 2030, dominated by tilapia, carp and catfish: Global tilapia production alone is expected to almost double to 7.3 million tons a year by 2030.
- With the rise in popularity of health and fitness has come a flood of fad diets and self-proclaimed “super-foods”. The merits of spirulina, quinoa and kale have been exhaustively covered, but the foodstuffs of tomorrow need to offer more than health benefits; they must help tackle global issues from poverty to climate change. Current trends show a consumer shift away from processed food, lab-made ingredients and extensive meat farming towards clean labelling and veganism, but will this last, asked Raconteur.
- From using agricultural devices connected to the internet of things (IoT) to gain insight into crop health in a bid to improve yield quality, to reducing the quantity of lost and damaged foodstuffs by implementing IoT monitoring devices in the entire distribution ecosystem, IoT solutions can offer data-driven insights and play a role in eliminating world hunger.
- One-third of the world’s food ends up in landfills, while almost a billion people around the globe are hungry. Can tech fix our broken system? A range of food-related apps is aiming to tackle the twin issues of waste and hunger, by offering innovations from last minute discounts to real-time assessments of food quality.
- The Wall Street Journal found that while holistic approaches to mental as well as physical wellness often include nutrition, the connection between food and mental health is now gaining traction in the medical community, too. Research in the field of nutritional psychiatry supports the scientific claim that what you eat and how you feel may be connected, especially when it comes to managing anxiety and depression.
- As cries for local food ring louder and louder, reported Modern Farmer, many have begun looking too flashy new urban farming missions: rooftop gardens, vertical farms inside abandoned factories or warehouses, that kind of thing. But a new study from the University of Minnesota finds that urban areas already produce a lot of food - the challenge is matching local producers with local consumers.
- Further reading:
- The World Food Program still helps to feed 80 million people a year, mostly in war zones.
- The new Food Sustainability Index comprises a briefing paper, infographicsand a digital hub. It is a qualitative and quantitative analysis model, based on 35 indicators and 50 sub-indicators, which analyse food sustainability from a multidisciplinary approach. One-third of the Earth’s land is devoted to agriculture, yet it accounts for 70% of water withdrawals and 80% of desertification.Despite this, agriculture is struggling to keep up with a growing population and limited natural resources, coping with climate change.
- The way we produce and consume food is changing, and fast. Producers must leverage modern farming techniques, factories must revolutionise the way they plan, and produce supply chains must be completely overhauled. From the rise of veganism to the ravages of climate change, Raconteur's Future of Food and Beverage report explored the factors affecting food today and the technologies making the food of tomorrow possible.
- Feeding the planet’s next 2 billion people means changing where we farm. Quartz travelled to investigate some entrepreneurs’ claims that mussels and other farmed seafood could and should feed the vast majority of the global population.
- Many food vendors have switched to bioplastic, which sounds like an ethical choice. But, while it may make some food feel virtuous, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace challenge its green rep. It is resource intensive and less than 40% of bioplastic is designed to be biodegradable. In many ways, it is just another polluting plastic, claimed The Guardian.
- Further reading:
- Just four crops - wheat, maize, rice and soybean - provide two-thirds of the world’s food supply. But scientists in Malaysia are trying to change that by reviving crops that have been relegated to the sidelines.
- Food waste could rise by almost a third by 2030 when more than 2 billion tonnes will be binned, researchers claimed, warning of a "staggering" crisis propelled by a booming world population and changing habits in developing nations. The UN has set a target of halving food loss and waste by 2030. But the Boston Consulting Group study found that if current trends continued, it would rise to 2.1 billion tonnes annually - an amount worth $1.5 trillion.
- EY argued that, in the future, there will be a fundamental shift from “food fictions” to “food facts.” New data technologies will give us a completely transparent food system. We’ll be able to see the environmental impact of every food choice we make, at the point of purchase. We’ll know much more about personal nutrition and how to achieve personal, optimum wellness. With accurate data about how our bodies are performing at any moment in time, we’ll be able to eat and drink products that are personalised to satisfy our precise needs. Today, most of us have to choose between taste, convenience and wellness. For future consumers, this trade-off will disappear, argued EY.
- A 25-year study, published in The Lancet Public Health, brings into question the healthiness of restricting carbs, as well as eating too many of them. People seem to love extremes when it comes to food, but the overall picture for eating remains: balance is key.
- Arguing that 2018 is the "year of mainstream veganism", The Guardian believes that there is not one single cause, but a perfect plant-based storm of factors. People cite one or more of three key motives for going vegan - animal welfare, environmental concerns and personal health - and it is being accompanied by an endless array of new business startups, cookbooks, YouTube channels, trendy events and polemical documentaries. The traditional food industry is desperately trying to catch up with the flourishing grassroots demand.
- The rapid explosion of the annual Veganuary campaign, in which curious omnivores and vegetarians sign up to try out veganism for a month and are then plied with recipes and other advice, shows how fast veganism is growing, added The Guardian.
- Global coworking powerhouse WeWork announced that it would no longer let its 6,000 employees expense meals containing meat, or serve meat at its events. WeWork stated in an internal memo: "New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact - even more than switching to a hybrid car".
- A Quartz writer argued that feeling compassion and respect for the creatures around us doesn’t necessarily preclude eating meat. Whether we’re vegans or devout carnivores, our actions will sometimes have ramifications that cause harm to other living things. What’s important, the writer believes, is interrogating our individual ethics and responsibilities.
- For decades, people have heard advice to eat hours before heading off to bed, noted Big Think. Now a new study offers an even more profound piece of evidence as to why an early dinner is essential: it reduces the risk of breast and prostate cancer. The study, conducted at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health found that those who eat dinner before 8 pm (or at least two hours before bedtime) experience a 20% reduction in the likelihood of developing the types of cancer listed above.
- WIRED noted that CRISPR technology can now "speed up nature" and change how we grow food - for example, it took thousands of years for humans to breed a pea-sized fruit into a beefsteak tomato. Now, with gene editing, scientists can change everything.
- The founder of the ‘Future Today Institute’, examined the future of farming, from genetic editing to collaborative robots to urban indoor warehouse farms and offered perspectives on the sci-fi feel of some new agricultural technology developments.
- One-third of caught seafood doesn’t get eaten, reported Quartz. While fishing is becoming more sustainable, food waste remains problematic.
- Calorie restriction has proven to be an effective method for weight loss, overall health, and longevity, noted Big Think. It has recently been shown to reduce age-related risks of diseases of dementia, cancer, and diabetes. Though extreme instances of caloric restriction (50 percent or more of your regular intake) might have its own problems, 20 percent is certainly a goal many would find beneficial.
- Foods similar to the foods that our ancestors ate in their natural environments are the foods that we are designed to flourish on, argued Aeon. However, when we deviate from design, we run risks. Eating naturally is eating what we’ve been designed to eat, just like a car that is designed to run on gasoline, not diesel or oil.
- At one time, people ate only food that was local and in season, but not anymore. Food diversity has declined. Food is now homogenised. In Never Out of Season, an academic examined how dependence on single species of crops threatens human survival. He writes of the Irish potato famine, “chocolate terrorism,” a desperate race to save seeds for future generations, and more. Scientists have discovered more than 300,000 plant species, but “80% of the calories” people eat come from just a dozen species and warns that pathogens, pests, wars and famine can obliterate a society’s food supply.
- The future of farming is here, and it will look a lot different than in years past. claimed the Future Today Institute. Think: microfarms housed underground in office buildings and on neighbourhood blocks and vertical farms housed in skyscrapers in urban centres. With no soil and no sun, these factories promise 365-day seasons and no threat of droughts, freezes or infestations. They can cultivate vegetables in the middle of cities and often deliver 10 to 20 times the yield of conventional farms. All this, using robots, sensors, artificial intelligence, LED lights, better genomic editing, vertical staking and advanced hydroponic grow systems.
- A vegan diet is the best way to reduce your environmental impact, according to new research from the University of Oxford.
- Up to 40% of food in the US goes to waste, at a cost of up to USD 160 billion a year.
- High-protein diets have been linked to heart disease - even for vegetarians, found Quartz. Animal and plant protein sources (except fish and eggs) seem to put human cardiovascular systems at risk.
- Chatham House reported on chokepoints and vulnerabilities in the global food trade.
- Major changes are needed in agriculture and food consumption around the world if future generations are to be adequately fed.
- Some communities are well on their way towards achieving food security, growing (and where appropriate giving away) all their own produce.Food trends over the previous decade.
- For many, organic was a synonym for “tasty” or “healthy” food. But the episode of the German-grown bean sprouts reminded us that, when dealing with the so-called organic myth, a little bit of critical thinking (and eating) would stand us in good stead.
- Food prices hit a record high in 2011, surpassing the levels seen during the 2007-08 crisis, according to a UN food index.
- The era of cheap food is therefore at an end, according to recent reports, with the real prices of key crops set to rise 50-100% during the next 40 years.
- Rising food prices are tightening the squeeze on populations already struggling to buy adequate food, demanding radical reform of the global food system, Oxfam warned, forecasting that, by 2030, the average cost of key crops could increase by between 120% and 180%.
- The End of Food argued that the entire system of food production will need to change radically over coming years.
- Over the next 40 years, the world’s population may increase to 9 billion plus, with most of the increase occurring in the developing world. To avoid food shortages on an unprecedented global scale, crop yields must be increased by a similar margin during the same timeframe.
- The billions in rescue packages provided by central banks in Britain, the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, Canada, Russia, and India could have wiped out hunger from the face of the planet, says food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma, adding: "The additional $900 billion that the United States has spent in the past one year could have pulled out the world's estimated 2 billion poor from perpetual poverty, and that too on a long-term sustainable basis. The $700 billion bailout package that George Bush is promising could have wiped out the last traces of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, and squalor from the face of the Earth."
- Grassroots groups worldwide promoted a new framework to radically alter the way we produce and distribute food. Uniting behind the banner of "food sovereignty", people are working not just for access to food, but for communities to have the right to democratically define their own food and agricultural systems without harming other people or the environment.