The Future of Food Changing Methods and Sources to Accommodate a Growing Population Joshua LaBounty HON 301 Abstract: As the human population grows, production of food will also need to grow to accommodate. It is currently estimated that our production will need to double by 2050, but this growth cannot be accomplished by simply scaling up the current means of production. This presentation will explore our options, both in alternative sources of nutrition and alternative means of production, and how these options can be implemented in a sustainable fashion. Current Production ● ● Approximately ⅓ of the Earth's’ landmass is used for the production of food. In 2012, this amounted to: ○ 2,266,800,000 Metric Tons of Grains (Wheat, Rice, etc.) ○ 248,964,000 Tons of ‘Ready to Cook’ Equivalent Beef, Pork and ‘Broiler Meat’ (Poultry) ■ Our current production may seem vast to the untrained eye, but looks can be deceiving. For instance, a majority of the 2.3 Trillion tons of grain goes into producing feed for livestock. These livestock are incredibly inefficient in converting the input grains (which could also be perfectly suited for human consumption) into usable meat. To produce 1 pound of beef, a farmer will need 13 pounds of grain and an estimated 2,500 gallons of water. If a 1,000-pound cow yields ~600 pounds of beef, that cow used 1.5 million gallons of water and 7,800 pounds of grain. This, scaled up to the factory farming infrastructure we have today, means that an individual farm such as Harris Ranch in California (with 150,000,000 cattle) could be using as much as 375 Billion gallons of water and 1.95 Billion tons of grain. Current Production ● ● 70% of the world’s freshwater is used in agriculture ○ Pollution from agriculture (antibiotics, pesticides, fertilizers) has had a significant impact on the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock account for anywhere between 10% and 50% of total global emissions Some estimate that if we globally reduced our animal consumption by 25 percent, we could reach our GHG emission goals as set forth by the United Nations. Farming also accounts for: 37% of Methane (27 x the Greenhouse warming effect as CO2); 64% of Ammonia (Acid Rain). By comparison, all forms of transportation (cars, planes, trains, etc.) contributes only 13% to total global carbon emission Ammonia in fertilizer combines with water to form Ammonium Ions (NH4+) which evaporate into the clouds and then lower the pH of the resulting rain. “The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution, euthropication and the degeneration of coral reefs. The major polluting agents are animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops. Widespread overgrazing disturbs water cycles, reducing replenishment of above and below ground water resources. Significant amounts of water are withdrawn for the production of feed.” -United Nations FAO Projection for Future Need ● ● World food production will need to double by 2050 to accommodate the estimated population of 9 Billion people Scaling up the current system is not feasible. ○ Would need an amount of land the size of South America, more than 100% of the world's naturally occurring freshwater, and would significantly increase GHG emissions The UN estimates that food production will need to double in order to feed the world growing population by the year 2050. In fact, they have made their goal the production of enough food to feed nutritionally complete meals to a population of 9.3 Billion by that same year. Projection for Future Need } 6.27% Increase Total Increase: 19 Million Ha = 190,000 square kilometers 6.27% Increase The amount of irrigated area, however, will not double by that time (nor will it increase to the size of South America). Therefore it is apparent that we must explore additional options for increasing the growing density of the land we already possess, as well as the utilization of land which currently is unusable. Projection for Future Need 40% Increase -- Impressive progress but not nearly enough to offset the increasing demand of 9 Billion people. These numbers represent the current agricultural yield projected forward into the future utilizing current methods only. The increase represents boeh an increase in the amount of available land (see the previous slide) and improvements in current technologies (more efficient irrigation of existing land, increasing crop density, etc.) Projection for Future Need None of these areas have doubled either (although poultry comes closest), indicating that if we continue to rely on traditional methods of food production we will fall short of the UN goal. Alternative Methods Exploring alternate means will allow us to utilize land which traditionally been unavailable. This includes both land which has been too rocky to farm (upon which farming superstructures can be constructed), lands poisoned by salt and pollutants, as well as urban areas. These so called ‘eco cities’ can transform the way we interact with our food, and how our food comes to our plates. Vertical Farming ● ● Japanese indoor farm contains 25,000 square feet of growing space, in which 10,000 heads of lettuce per day are produced ○ Grows a special coreless variety of lettuce to reduce food waste by 80% Requires 40% less power, 99% less water than traditional outdoor farming. These facilities can be specifically tailored to the production of food within them, and the environment within the facility controlled to incredible precision, allowing the plants to grow at their maximum potential. Additionally, these facilities can be constructed in any environment -- from the driest desert to the most polluted cities -and still produce exactly the same product as any other. Because there are no vehicles for seeding, nor combines for harvesting, the need for greenhouse gas spewing vehicles in the production of food is completely eliminated. As a result, not only is the building much more power efficient, much more of this power can come from renewable sources (such as solar panels situated on the roof of the structure). If these farms are centrally located near to where the food will be consumed, further GHG emissions can be avoided! Vertical Farming ● ● LED Lights designed by GE to produce specific wavelength ideally suited to stimulate plant growth. Entire building can be powered by renewable sources of energy These specific wavelengths of light used in the lighting were specially tailored to the strains of lettuce which are being grown in the structure. They are the wavelengths the plant can best absorb and utilize in photosynthesis, and thus promote the same amount of growth at the fraction of the cost of traditional hydroponic methods (which involve cost-inefficient incandescent bulbs). Because of the self-contained design of the facility, this farm can be located in any location in which there is working power and water. There could be a warehouse the floor below this and office space above, and no one would be the wiser. Eco Cities ● ● Scaled up vertical farms can be located within skyscrapers Food production located within the city, allows for little to no transportation cost of food ○ Lowers greenhouse emission significantly. Solar panels along the tops of buildings will provide power to operate the LED lights of the vertical farms of the upper floors. The food will be harvested and sent to the middle floors for processing and preparing, before being sent to the lowest floors where those living nearby will be able to walk in and purchase locally grown produce all year round Eco Cities ● Coastal cities can use the adjacent seawater in farming by using solar distillation ○ Reduce the dependance of drought ridden cities on irrigated water This can also be utilized alongside desert and tropical coasts, to grow food there which can then be brought to market by ship. Edible Packaging ● ● What food must still be transported longer distances can be made up of a larger percentage of food Food can be surrounded with skin like that of a grape or an apple WikiCell David Edwards -- Professor at Harvard -- came up with idea Alternative Sources While alternative methods of production may be able to make up some of the gap between supply and demand, we will most definitely need to look into alternate sources of nutrition in the near future. These alternate sources may range from utilizing existing sources of food in a novel way (such as plant based meat substitutes), creating and tailoring our food from its base components, and simply trying new things. Insects Most every country in the world has some variety of edible insect. Thus this source of food can be locally sourced, with minimal risk of invasive species being released from the farming process. Insects 80% of the cultivated mass of a batch of crickets is edible, compared to only 40% for beef. Additionally, the amount of feed necessary to generate 1 kg of edible material is much less than beef and pork (and marginally less than poultry). If we were to cultivate crickets, more of the grain produced by the world would be available for direct human consumption, which would help to close the gap between food need and production. “It’s chock-full of protein, has more iron than spinach, as much calcium as milk, all the amino acids, tons of omega 3, and tons of B12," -Next Millennium Farms Insects The GHG emissions from all insects are also lower than conventional food animals. Note that the scale of the graphs has been normalized according to the according to the global warming potential of CO2, so methane produced by these animals will register 23 times larger on the scale than CO2. Insects ● Next Millennium Farms in Canada ● Cricket flour ○ Upwards of 10,000 pounds a month ○ Can be used in baked goods or as a substitute for protein powder In addition to the flour, they also sell whole crickets and mealworms for consumption. Pictured are their flavoured and packaged snack foods (think beef jerky) and the whole crickets being incorporated into a traditional recipe. From what I’ve heard, the cricket tacos are pretty good at the mexican restaurant nearby. Lab Grown Meat ● ● ● “A few cells taken from a cow can be turned into 10 tons of meat.” ○ Dr. Mark Post Could be grown in the same vertical farms shown earlier Lower in fat than conventionally produced meat This process means partially cutting out the middleman of the animal in the process of meat production, reducing the greenhouse gasses produced by the animal directly. Has been performed as early as 1971, but it was not until recently that the process has begun to be scaled up to be actually consumed. On August 5th, 2013 the worlds first lab grown burger was cooked and tasted on live TV. The reactions were somewhat mixed. Tasters said it definitely tasted like meat, but with a distinct absence of fat (which made it slightly drier than a normal hamburger would have been). Tasters also admitted that it did indeed taste of meat, and not a meat replacement constructed from plant protein (see three slides hence). “We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.” —Winston Churchill, Fifty Years Hence, The Strand Magazine (December 1931) Lab Grown Meat Tissue is extracted from a living animal via a painless biopsy procedure. A chemical treatment is used to extract the stem cells within the adult tissue which are then removed from the rest of the cells and cultured separately. Once these cells have begun growing, they are transferred to a ‘scaffolding’ of electrical contacts which are periodically stimulated to stimulate the muscle. This stimulation allows the muscle to develop some of the same features as muscle which a cow would normally develop through exercise. From there, the food is processed just like any normal hamburger meat: grinding it up, adding any additional flavors or preservatives, and cooking. Lab Grown Meat The energy use of this process is less than half that of conventional farming, and because most of the cost comes from simple electrical devices, a larger portion of that can be sourced from renewable energy (dropping the GHG emissions by more than a factor 10). This could also be located on one of the floors of our vertical farm, furthering our dream for local food production even in the confines of the concrete jungle. The technology is still in its infancy, so growing your own hamburger is still prohibitively expensive, but this is expected to change in the coming years. Meat Replacements ● Beyond Meat company in Missouri ○ Vegetarian meat substitutes made from mixtures of soy and pea protein, yeast, and various other flavorings. ○ ~ 7 million pounds of substitute produced per year Since plant sources of food are much more plentiful, and can be more easily be transformed into a vertical infrastructure, we should also focus our efforts on creating acceptable substitutes for meat. These substitutes can eliminate the ~200 kg of CO2 equivalent being spewed into the atmosphere by beef production by allowing us to simply process the plant matter ourselves -- cutting out the middleman, as it were. Beyond Meats’ 25/20 goal -- reduction of global meat consumption by 25% by 2020 (which would meat the UN’s GHG emission goal). "I tasted Beyond Meat’s chicken alternative and honestly couldn’t tell it from real chicken." -Bill Gates Soylent Instead of simply replacing meat, we could replace traditional sources of food in our diets altogether. Soylent is a company which seeks to provide a nutritionally complete ‘meal’ at the fraction of the cost of normal meals, both monetarily and environmentally. All of these supplements are derived from plants or fungi (bar the fish oil, which can be substituted for any number of vegetable based options), and can be produced cheaply and are already widely available. Since these are entirely plant based, it would be possible to greatly reduce the amount of land taken up by animal farming, and repurpose that to farming additional plant food sources Genetically Modified Food ● ● ● In addition to providing resistance to disease/pests, genetic modifications can increase nutritional content of food Golden Rice ○ Modified to produce carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A Similar modifications have been done to varieties of South American white corn and Cavendish bananas Vitamin A difficiency is a serious problem worldwide which can lead to Night Blindness, skin discoloration, and complications during pregnancy (see http://goo. gl/6L9Lat). This additional nutrient in rice can significantly alleviate this disease while causing no change to the flavor of the rice. Genetically Modified Food ● Cassava ○ Grows in extremely poor soil ■ staple food for those with poor growing conditions ○ Naturally deficient in Iron, Zinc, Vitamins A and E. ○ Rots quickly ● Scientists have produced strains with four times the natural protein and up to 10 times the Vitamin/Mineral levels. Also reduced the cyanide-producing toxins in the roots… So that’s pretty good. The genetically modified cassava program recently received approval for the first-ever field trial of a transgenic crop in Africa, so we’ll be able to see within a few years the effect GM crops can have on worldwide nutrition. Genetically Modified Food ● Salinity Tolerance ○ 7.4 acres of arable land is rendered useless by contamination from saltwater each minute ○ UC Davis has produced a strain of tomato plant which can grow in those conditions, potentially reclaiming that land Questions? Sources Alexandratos, Nikos. "World Food and Agriculture: Outlook for the Medium and Longer Term." 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