The global population is skyrocketing, the climate is changing, and diets are shifting. So how do you tackle the problem of feeding 9 billion people by 2050?
It’s only 2017 and we produce enough food for 10 billion people, so why are we defaulting to a scientific solution? Science can address the technical aspects of food production — yields, shelf life, etc. — but the technical aspects of food production aren’t the problems when it comes to feeding nine billion people, or dealing with the agricultural impact of climate change, or accommodating shifting diets. These problems are, almost exclusively, social and political.
“Twenty-first-century challenges require 21st century approaches,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of FFAR. While many people tend to view agriculture as a tradition-bound system, “it really is a cutting-edge science.”
This may be true, but nowhere is it written that a 21st century approach MUST involve advanced technology, precision-everything, and patching together a broken food system with duct tape made out of patents.
We have an intractable food problem because it’s a people problem, not a technological one. Its solution will involve deliberate choices to do with less quantity and fewer options in a world where the supermarket and its infinite bounty and instant gratification are regarded as a global ideal.
“Revolution” is agriculture oriented toward locality, diversity, redundancy, seasonality, mass participation, and ecological integration. Revolution is farms, and the technologies for distributing food, focused on producing food for a community or region instead of the gaping maw of a global marketplace. Revolution is communities around the world largely independent of food products, methods, and technologies owned outside of those communities.
A Green Revolution would be a fundamental re-engineering of the way food is produced and consumed around the world.