It all starts with agriculture, where our food comes from. And that's about to change - dramatically!
By 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.6 billion with 65% of us living in urban areas.
Our land, water, soil and environment are all under siege and the USDA says that climate change is going to create challenges.
We are seeing a more direct farm to consumer connection as communities strive to get closer to nature. And we are seeing more consumers opting for a plant-based diet. The FreshFoodNY app is a virtual farmers market where New Yorkers can purchase local food directly from NY farmers, fisherman and artisans. There is a new breed of younger farmers entering the fields – the USDA’s latest Census of Agriculture reports that the number of farmers aged under 35 is increasing – that’s only the second time that’s happened since 1900; and 69% of them have college degrees – far higher than the 40% of the general population that does. Younger, smarter farmers will bring us into a new era of ag.
And as Innova shows there has been a huge rise in plant based everything. Last year we spoke of the opportunitites for meatless sburgers like Immpossible Foods and Beyond Meat – today Immpossible foods’s burger is sold in Umami Burger and Beyond Meat’s offerings are in the meat cases across the US at Kroger, Albertsons, Shaw’s, Wegmans, Safeway and all Ahold banners.
Vertical indoor farming is more efficient bringing more farms closer to where people live, reducing expense and environmental impact. In Linkoping Sweden, a multi use building will open in 2020 with 16 stories of farms to offices at a 3:1 ratio, with a retail store an wholesale operation that saves 1,100 tons of CO2 emissions and 13 million gallons of water, a 100+ story high farm, In-home farms – that utilizes NASA developed technologies from our space stations and even a new breed of seafood farms along our coasts.
Vertical farms offer so many benefits its impossible to ignore this as the farming of the future. A 30 story high farm uses 26 million kilowatts of power – but generates 56 million kilowatts through solar energy and biogas digesters. One farm acre indoors produces the same yield as 4-6 acres outdoors.
But with every new advance there are those in the old school who fight. One fight is now within the organic ranks on whether hydroponically grown produce should be considered “organic” since there is no soil involved in the growing process; which will probably lead to more consumer confusion rather than empowerment.
Bill Gates has bought 25,000 acres to develop a new “smart city” from the ground up; which I hope could be a new model for a food community – it's the perfect platform for vertical farming, drone and autonomous vehicle deliveries of groceries – and who knows what else?
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