This week I read about the intersection between food and technology. As far as I understand, we have been introducing new technologies in our food since forever. The way we produce, process and discard our food is an ever-changing topic. But one of the most important technological transformations in the food system happened a few decades ago, with the green revolution. That period has lead us to a more efficient agriculture, powered by the use of GMOs and pesticides.
Now I am not here to defend or accuse GMOs, because honestly, I think there are both good and bad aspects related to it. But the thing is that I am seeing another wave of food-related technology approaching us right now. Things that are deeply connected to our food system, such as the world’s population growth for the next years or the global warming are bringing the word’s attention to the way we produce, distribute and consume our food. Because of that, the investments in startups and initiatives that are related to innovation in food are so trendy right now. A few years ago it was not sexy to invest in agriculture. In 2014, the money invested in this sector was 7 times bigger than in 2008.
But not only huge companies from the Silicon Valley are thinking about this. Entities like NYU are also investing in student’s projects that are related to that. And for my own experience, even in ITP, I am seeing more and more projects that have a sustainable concern, or that try to solve a problem related to food. In our very own Food Systems class, for example, we expect to see several technological solutions to small problems related to food.
Here are some interesting projects that bring food and technology together. I am not saying they are necessarily good, but definitively something new.
Tiny Farms: Scalable insect farming.
Lab-Grown Meat: A very interesting idea. If meat is a huge contributor to humanity’s environmental footprint, accounting for some 18% of our total greenhouse gas emissions, how would you feel by eating meat that was grown in a lab?
Precision Agriculture: Taking advantage of information technology, farmers can now collect precise data about their fields and use that knowledge to customize how they cultivate each square foot.