Food and Technology

With the world’s population expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050 there will have to be changes in the way food is produced and distributed to cater not only to the growing population but to combat the negative effects the food industry has on the environment.

In developing countries, hunger is still a prevalent issue. In first world countries, food is becoming more aestheticized due to social media. Technology has the potential to drive a sustainable future of food whilst also bringing about the exciting trends and love for food.

My goal is to create either a Prezi or series of blog posts including multimedia material exploring how the futurology of food investigates the effect technology has on the production, distribution and consumption of food. I will split my research into these three separate categories:

  • Production
  • Distribution
  • Consumption

I will focus primarily on production, as I feel this is where technology is having the greatest impact on the food industry. But I will also link in distribution and consumption to better understand the futurology of food. Whilst production and distribution concentrate mainly on sustainability, consumption identifies the connection people have with food in a social-media saturated world.

 


 

Production

Farming has been in decline for a long time, initially due to the introduction of heavy machinery in the early 90’s. In the 30 years leading up to 2011 the number of farmers declined by over 100,000 (40%). While the Australian Bureau of statistics reports that this is for a multitude of reasons including drought it is also because fewer young people take over family farms, leaving rural areas to explore city opportunities instead.

Now researchers are working on the creation of robots to do the work that was once done by humans. The University of Sydney is creating artificial intelligence that has the ability to monitor and evaluate it’s surroundings in farm environments and respond appropriately.

Between increasing technology, machines, biotechnology and biogenetics how food is being created  and farmed has changed a lot. One of the key things that have to change to allow for a growing population in the future is the sustainability of food to combat threats to food security. Todays agricultural farming industries are wasteful, polluting and depend on oil.aeroponics.jpeg

‘Vertical’ farming is one solution, instead of having one layer of plants over a large area, stacking them upwards in a building by usinghydroponics, that is growing plants without soil, allowing for the urbanisation of agriculture.

 

Another major issue facing food consumption is the rising concern about animal cruelty and the production of green house gases produced by animals raised for consumption. Veganism has become a mainstream approach for a lot of people. Additionally, recently there has been the creation cultured or ‘clean’ meats. That is, meat without the animals that has been produced by animal cells. Clean meat is a more sustainable option for the environment, is safer and doesn’t harm animals.

 Distribution

Due to consistently rising gas prices and a growing demand for fresher produce the way in which food is distributed may have to change. High gas prices require more regional distribution of food goods. This might mean that urban farming and things like vertical farming become a necessity.

Humans are also being taken out of the distribution process. There are already start-up businesses working on creating robots to deliver takeaway food. Amazon Prime Air is already testing out drones to deliver their products straight to the doorstep of customers.

 Drones also have a growing role in food distribution, they have the ability to deliver food from A to B, as demonstrated by the Aussie legend who infamously used a drone to pick up a Bunnings snag. However, their capabilities lie far beyond that, from handling inventory at Walmarts to delivering food and aid to war zones.

Drone-package-delivery.jpg 

Consumption

Not only has the way in which we physically consume food changed but digital media has altered the way a lot of us engage with food. Digital culture is asserting that trends in food are more relevant than ever. Social media has had a huge impact on presentation of food and the way in which a lot of people aestheticise food and trends. Food throughout history has been a social practice, the introduction of social media has allowed for a greater connection between individuals and food trends.

Fads and diets are constantly evolving, from sugar free to clean eating. These things have taken a rise through social media, veganism has undoubtedly had the biggest impact through social media and platforms such as YouTube which have seen people become celebrity chefs.

When it comes to the way in which physical consumption has changed 3D printing is at the forefront. Food Ink is the first 3D dining experience, with pop-ups opening around Europe. Guests sit at 3D printed chairs and tables while a robotic arm 3D prints a meal in front of them.

 

Food is central to our lives, not just because we need it to survive but because it has a long past in our cultures and a growing role in shaping our identity and the future calls for changes to be made to the food industry to live sustainably.

 

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