Food Security & the FoodMachine

Published: 25 April 2011

“A threefold challenge now faces the world: Match the rapidly changing demand for food from a larger and more affluent population to its supply; do so in ways that are environmentally and socially sustainable; and ensure that the world’s poorest people are no longer hungry. This challenge requires changes in the way food is produced, stored, processed, distributed, and accessed that are as radical as those that occurred during the 18th- and 19th-century Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions and the 20th-century Green Revolution. Increases in production will have an important part to play, but they will be constrained as never before by the finite resources provided by Earth’s lands, oceans, and atmosphere.”

The paragraph above is an excerpt from an article I recently read in the February 2010 publication of Science (a peer reviewed scientific journal). The title of the article is “Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People.” You can read the full article here.

It addresses one of the major issues that we will come face to face with in the coming years. In fact, most of us who live in North America have never experienced real issues related to food scarcity or true hunger. However, for large portions of the world this is a serious issue that has far reaching ramifications. In 2008 there were riots in Cairo, Egypt over the increase in food prices. The reasons for food scarcity and rising food prices are complex but political instability as well as health issues are some of the results.

The article referenced above does a great job providing in-depth analysis on the topic. My take-away from the article was pretty simple. We can’t continue conducting business as usual. Change is needed.

The FoodMachine™ is not the only solution. However, I do believe it is part of the solution that is needed for the move toward individual and global food security.

Although food aid has its place, it is not the answer to food insecurity. The answer is figuring out how to produce the food needed as close to the end consumers as possible. A large percentage of the costs associated with food are in the storage and transport of the crops from the producer to the end user. How is it that crops rot in fields in countries in Africa while people in those same countries go without? There must be a way to connect the food and the people who need it.

The FoodMachine™ will allow people to grow food, fish and plants, in close proximity to one another. I believe one of the most helpful applications of the FoodMachine™ will be the urban setting, where space is at a premium and the majority of people live. Imagine flat rooftops in cities from Cairo to Manila producing food for the residents that live in that building. What if empty warehouses could be converted into urban farms, providing not only productive use of currently unproductive space but also nearly eliminating the need for food transportation and storage as food would be harvested as it is purchased?

We must think outside the box and not be content with the way things have always been…the lives of many depend on it.