It’s 2018 and as the world’s population continues to grow at an ever increasing speed. We need to re-evaluate our food system. With barely 30 years before the global population hits a predicted 9.7billion, in 2050. How are we going to continue to feed our population. How can we feed the world?
There is no doubt in my mind, that we will not be able to feed everyone with our current food system. To say ‘It’s broken!’ is an understatement! The problem is ever-increasing and there’s certainly no easy solution. Which is why we need to act soon, before it’s too late.
From my perspective one huge aspect of the problem is the structure of industrial scale farming.
In the main, it ignores the long-term effects of its methods. In favour of producing large yields as quickly and as cheaply as possible. But do we really know the cost of this cheap food? Have we weighed up the costs on our health care, nutrition, soils, waterways and of course – the flavor of the final product?
Farming is not an easy game.
The work is never ending and poorly remunerated. Farmers have been forced to seek ways of expanding the bottom line. Example. Resulting in the more sustainable, traditional ways of farming in years gone by, being pushed to the side; to enable the system to keep going.
As is the case with much of ‘big business’ – our food system is mainly controlled by those who stand to gain the most financially. This is a flaw in the system. How can we allow big industry to buy ingredients at less than they truly cost to produce? Farm subsidies were introduced to enable our local farmers to continue to produce, while making a loss. But this leaves our farmers with little or no option, as to whether to comply and continue to feed the system. The processors then mix and stretch these ingredients to produce meals that are lacking in nutrition. Or if truth be told, even much flavour. Yet a highly profitable and shelf stable product that can be transported and sold as “cheap food’.
On the shop shelf the true costs aren’t always clear to the consumer. Who aren’t always aware of real ingredients in their meals. Much of this processed food is high in fat. Ladden with sugar and salt. low in nutritional value. And has been grown in soils that are void of life, with crops that are fed by chemicals. Vegetables grown like this are often sprayed relentlessly leading to run off that pollutes our waterways. And of course, produces crops that are lacking in the vibrant flavour and life that produce that grown with love and care have.
How do we avoid the costs of this ‘cheap food’?
Of course our farms need to be efficient. But we also need them to grow healthy and nutritious produce, promote healthy soils and waterways and deliver on flavour!
The future is in the past.
We grew food for 1000’s of years before the advent of industrial farming. Our current methods of farming have had such a negative effect on the planet, that we need to become accountable for our actions. We need to nourish nature. By returning to methods that increase soil health and nutrition, we will create a long-term increase in yields, produce nutritious, more resistant crops and provide healthier food for all.
Ironically the companies that are forcing farmers to become ruthlessly efficient, just to survive another year, are the opposite. They create waste, waste beyond imagination. They reject crops that are not aesthetically pleasing. Creation of unnecessary packaging such as single use plastics and other non recyclables. And often ‘cut corners’ in a race to the bottom. This race to provide the cheapest food at any cost is not doing us any favours. We’re fighting against nature, destroying the very thing that gives us life.
Of course, feeding the planet is a much more complicated problem than conducting a simple calculation of how many tons of ‘X’ can be produced, and how can we bulk it out with ‘Y’ and ship it to ‘Z’. A much broader debate needs to happen here. Our system as a whole wastes 30% of its production. We can already feed the planet. We can already produce food for everyone. Yet people are starving, while the rest are happily throwing it away.
So what do we do?
The realisation that the current system is broken, needs to be listened to. And responsibility lies with everyone. We all eat!
To change the system we need to revise our farming methods, work with nature, increase our perception of the value of food, and stop treating it as a cheap commodity that can be so easily wasted.
Our reward for this is healthy, nutritious food, that feeds the planet – allowing us to live alongside nature.