The Future of Food - Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences

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5 Δεκ 2012 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 9 μήνες)

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Julian Cribb & Associates Discussion Paper


12

The Future of Food

Abstract:
Dramatic evolution in the global diet, cuisine and consumer preferences
will, over the coming decades, change the foods we eat more profoundly than at
any time in our history.
Driven by emerging scarcities of land, water, oil, nutrients,
fish and profound

change in the climate that gave rise to agriculture, what we eat
a century from now will bear little resemblance to what we eat today
.

Julian Cribb

FTSE

Queensland Academy of Art s& Sciences, July 12, 2012

Slide 2
: food will change

What people
eat in 2112 will be
ar little resemblance to
today
’s diets
.

The nature of food is poised

to change, more profoundly than
in

any previous epoch of human
history

since farming first began
.


The kinds of food we eat, how we produce and consume them, their heal
th value and composition
will be as unfamiliar to us today, as the foods our own great grandparents
grew and
ate a century
ago


before the age of cosmopolitan cuisine, fast food,
refrigerators,
takeaway,
manufactured food,
fro
zen meals, pesticides,
cold storage,
oil, Jamie Oliver
, Nigella

and Master Chef.

These new foods will be the
result

of
fierce

demand and resource pressures building up in the global
food system, coupled with the advent of
astonishing

new technologies as well as
emerging trends

i
n
diet,

farming
, healthcare and sustainability
.

I will make a number of prophecies about the future of food


not all of them pleas
ing

to the
contemporary ear
.

Many, however, foreshadow magnificent new opportunities in both food and agriculture, for those
astute and flexible enough to take advantage.

Like all prophecies, some will
prov
e wrong


but based upon current global trends and a lifelong
observance of food and agriculture
, I am confident
most
will be
approximately

correct.

Slide
3
: megatrends

For ex
ample: w
ith food
-
related diseases
implicated in the deaths

of
nearly
half of all

consumers
in

Australia and the
affluent
world, the present
‘killer
diet


is unlikely to last
.

S
ociety



and

governments especially


will
awake
n

to its
true

costs

in terms of economic loss,
massive
medical
expenditure

and
extended
end
-
of
-
life care
.

Society will
increasingly
become
as
intolerant of people eating themselves to a costly degenerative demise as it is of them smoking,
drinking or dr
iving

themselves to de
ath.


And w
ith

global warming of 5
-
6 degrees
now on the cards by

2100
,

a great many familiar foods

are
likely to

decline or disappear from the diet



to

be replaced by
entirely
new ones
.

As

transport fuels become scarce and costly, there will be
renewed

focus on
and pride in
locally
-
produced

food
s
.

Also, i
f cities and
giant energy companies

continue to take water and land
away
from farmers, and
supermarkets to punish them economically

by driving down commodity prices
, much of our
future
food
may

be grown
artificially
in factories rather than
on farms.

Another very important prediction is that much of our food will be ‘recycled’. Today we have the
dubious distinction of being first generation in the whole of human history to waste nearly half our

food


a colossal squandering that is neither moral nor economic nor sustainable.

Finally,

if technology continues to snowball at present rates, it will inevitably give rise to a host of
n
ovel

foods
, diets

and food
production
systems we can barely
imagine

today.

While

all

th
is

sound
s

a little ominous, the diet of the future will also be vastly more diverse,
interesting, healthy
, resource
-
efficient

and
creative

than our present one.
I
t will surprise, even
shock,

those

who
regard

food as a

fixed, unchanging

tradition
.

And it will excite
,
entrance
and
inspire
those who regard food as an adventure.

Slide 4
: major drivers

With ten billion consumers, each
demanding

a better diet than today
’s
,
the
amount of
food
produced must

to
double

by
the 2060s
.

At the same
time
,

alarming
scarcities
are
emerging

of all the
things we need to produce food.
Summarised briefly (details in my book):

Slide 5
: water



In countries like China, India and the US groundwater is
seriously

depleted. There is

vast

and
growing competition fro
m the energy sector and
mega
cities for farmers’ water. And climate
change is reducing rainfall over the great grain bowls, snowpack on high mountains
, lakes,
rivers and aquifers in dry lands. This combination means world food production will face
critical
water scarcity
as early as

the 2030s.

Slide
6
: land



The world is losing 75
-
100 gigatonnes of topsoil

and about 1 per cent of its farm land

every

year. At this rate we will run out of soil within 50
-
70 years
.

Megacities will double in size to 9
m sq kms.

The global area of farm land has shrunk in 9 of the last 10 years.

Slide 7
: energy



Peak oil in 2006 (IEA 2010) point
s

to
inevitable scarcity and
rising prices for fuel and
petrochemicals as demand overtakes global production.

There are now 750 million veh
icles
and their number is growing by

61 million every year
, while discoveries of new oil are failing
to keep pace
.

Slide 8
: nutrients



World phosphate and potash resources are finite and will be become prohibitively costly by
mid
-
century as high
-
grade reser
ves deplete

and energy costs rise
. World N supply will be
affected by the rising price of natural gas.

Slide 9
: R&D



For quarter of a century the
re has been catastrophic
stagnation

in agricultural research and
science worldwide, driven by complacency in wes
tern governments. The rate of delivery of
new technology and sustainable science to farmers has been

set back a generation or more.

Slide
10
: fish



The ocean fish catch peaked in 2004 and has been declining ever since,
offset by growth in
aquaculture
.

Slid
e 11
: climate

All this is happening at a time when the climate which gave birth to agriculture


the Holocene


is
changing forever.

An u
nstable
warming
climate will make the growing of food by
traditional

means extremely
difficult,

costly

and often,
imp
ossible
.


Slide 12: climate 2

Current scientific estimates suggest the world
co
uld

los
e

around 10 per cent of its food production
for every degree of global warming.

This model, from the UK’s Hadley Centre, predicts up to 40% of
the Earth in drought by 2100.

This means we will need to increase global food production by up to 50 per cent by 2100
just to
maintain current levels of supply.


The
n
,

we need to double food p
roduction to meet rising demand from

10 billion consumers.

So, i
n total we will need to
lift food

output by 150%

to keep up.

M
ost commentators on global food security ignore this critical
synergy
.

It is therefore inevitable that, b
y the end of the century
, there will
have been
a

complete rethink of
how we farm, what foods we produce and prefer, and
indeed,
humanity’s

entire
relationship with
food.

Besides the obvious
perils
, this will also contain boundless new opportunities.

One of the first impacts of
this constellation of scarcities and pressures will be the emergence of new
food industries, opportunities and jobs


and the decline of many traditional ones.

But that has
always been so.

Slide 13
. aquaculture

Among the
likely
boom

food

industries of the
coming half century are aquaculture, algae farming,
novel fruits and vegetables
, urban agriculture
, aquaponics

and biocultu
res.

Between them, these will yield a diet
significantly

kinder

to the planet,
more resilient to climate
impacts,
more healthy and
delicious for the consumer, more diverse and rewarding for the producer

and
the cook

and less costly to government in terms of the health budget
.

When the ocean fish catch peaked in

2004
it became
plain

that in future most of the world’s
table
fish w
ill
ha
ve to be farmed rather than wild
-
harvested
. Worldwide Aquaculture now produces about
40 million tonnes of fish and 15 millions tonnes of water plants (algae) a year


but this is
only

a
shadow of its true potential.


For example CSIRO’s Dr Nigel Preston
sa
ys 1.5 million ha of land in northern Australia has been
assessed as suitable for farmed fish pro
duction. Fish farms today yield

5
-
10 tonnes of prawns or
barramundi to the hectare every year


so there is potential for an aquaculture sector

producing
milli
ons of tonnes of food
. This may be
larger,
potentially,
that o
ur present beef,

sheep
, pig and

poultry

industries

combined
.

P
rovided the feed sources exist to support it.

One reason that fish farming is set to boom is that fish
convert feed into meat around twice as efficiently as
large
land animals
, and
use

much less oil and
carbon to do so
.
As grain prices soar, due to

oil,
land, water
,

climate

and demand

pressures, feed
ing
fish will become more economically attractive.

Aquaculture can also be phenomenally diverse
. S
o get ready for an explosion in choice
among

farmed seafoods: fish large and small,
crustacean
s

and krill
, shellfish, echinoderms (like urchins and
sea cucumb
ers),
a vast array of
sea

plants and vegetables

and a host of aquatic things m
any

people
have never
yet
heard of.

Slide 1
4
:
algae

In f
uture
huge
algae farms



on land, at sea and in salt lakes
-

will produce food for people, feed for
animals, biofuels for transport, pharmaceuticals, plastics and fine chemicals


and themselves will be
nourished

on the vast stream of nutrients emitted by the world’s cities, as they begin to recycle food
waste, orga
nic waste and sewage.


The US Obama Government is already ploughing
$500m

into algal biofuels research to meet the
future needs of its defence
and transport sectors
. In Australia, James Cook University is pioneering
new algal
farming techniques
, including

the clever idea of using the waste CO2 emitted by power
stations as a feed source.

Around the world, countries from Israel to Brazil to China are investing in
what could well become the world’s biggest cropping industry.

Algae can be farmed in tanks
, vess
els

or ponds on waste land

or roofs
, and even in large floating
containers in the oceans
, without competing against agriculture or wilderness
.

When all is said and done, algae are just water plants, and can be turned into delicious and healthy
foods as rea
dily as wheat, rice or any other crop. There isn’t an algae bar
in

the supermarket yet


but watch this space.

Slide 1
5
: artificial meat

While
‘foodies’

sneer at the idea of artificial meat, European and Japanese scientists are hard at
work developing i
t.

2011 saw
Maastricht U
niversity produce the world’s first synthetic sausage
, and the first synthetic
hamburger is due in 2012.

Cultured meat is produced by growing animal stem cells in a glass dish and feeding them on the right
nutrients to become muscle
cells. The ‘holy grail’ of this research is to endow
the product

with
similar

flavours, textures and
nutritional
qualities
to

normal meat.

The main driver is that the fact that it takes
far

less soil, water, fertiliser an
d carbon to produce a kilo
of
cultured meat

than

a kilo of
traditional meat
.

It
also
has ethical advantage
s, which are

of growing importance among

affluent consumers

concerned with animal welfare and rights issues



as the egg
display

at the supermarket already
informs

us
.

F
ood snobs
say
fake meat
will never catch on


but

you could say th
e same of today’s

crab sticks,
chicken nugget
s, ‘meat’

pies, sausages or other highly
-
processed
hardly
-
meat
foods
.

I
f it is tasty
, healthy

and cheap,
bi
llions
will eat it


just as they
took to
marga
rine and
w
earing
synthetic textiles
.

Rather than replacing natural meat, however, th
e advent of these new forms of
low
-
cost
protein
will merely cement it into an elite market niche.

Slide 16
: traditional meat

By the second part of the century global demand for meat of all forms
is forecast to

climb to 4
65

million tonnes or more.

Traditional meats will
still

be available, but
high grain and transport costs means they will

probably

cost the consumer a
great deal
more



hundreds of dollars a kilo
.

This will ensure p
eople eat
their meat with

more respect
, restraint

and appreciation
.

This will position products like grainfed beef as the elite foodstuffs of the 21
st

century


rare,
expensive and highly prized, as

Kobe

beef is in Japan today.

P
roviding they can find ways to break the giant supermarkets’
global
stranglehold,
meat producers

will
be able to
earn a more rewarding

income

from this
superb

product
.


I
n the world’s rangelands
cattle production
will expand, using advanced techniques like precision
pastoralism.
Besides the income from highly
-
prized organic meat, these enterprises will also derive
income from carbon sequestration, revegetation and water conservation.

Cattle

and other animals includ
ing kangaroos, camels, sheep and goats
,
will
in other words play a
central

role i
n

combating climate change and
reversing

land degradation

and water
loss
.

Slide 17
: biocultures

Cell culture
is

currently used in
leading
-
edge
medical research to develop life
saving

t
herapies like
skin grafts and transplants.

This same technology
will
emerge as

a major alternate source of healthy food in future
, as cities seek
ways to improve their food security
.


Cells from plants, fungi
,

microbes
and other organisms
can be cultured
en masse

in
large steel
vessel
s



known as
bioreactor
s


and turned into edible, soundly nutrit
i
ous and even delectable
foods.

More importantly,

novel foods
will

be
designed

that
are specially tailored to

the dietary needs of the
individual

consumer


and which protect
your or me
against heart disease, diabetes
or
cancer

based
on genetic analysis of
our

personal
risk.

Those tempted to deride such ‘factory foods’ m
ight

think again
,

if eating them means an extra 10 or
20 years of healthy life
.

By 2060 the world’s cities will cover an area of the planet as large as China (9.6 million sq kms)
,

consume half the available fresh water and
discard

enough food and nutrients to feed 5 billion
people.

If they do not meet at least part of their own foo
d needs

locally
, the
se cities

will be in extreme
danger
of famine
from transport or climate
crises
.

Th
e need to sustain a local food supply for a giant city
, combined with the need to recycle nutrients
and water, will drive the development of
the

new bioculture food industry.

Slide 18

and 19
:
Urban farms

The need to feed the megacities will also
usher in

a
revolution

in urban agriculture.

This will range from the very high tech


shimmering
glass
skyscrapers
, spheres and pyramids
producing veget
ables, fruits, fish and small livestock
by

largely hydroponic methods


to the
industrial production of fresh foods on
urban

roofs and walls, to a renaissance in backyard, balcony,
private allotment and public food garden production by individuals and grou
ps.

This trend is already eviden
t

around the world, especially in the US and Europe
,

where it is forcing
cities to revoke short
-
sighted ordinances that prohibit urban farm
ing
.

Hospitals are already culturing fresh vegetables on their roofs to feed to pati
ents in recovery.

Trendy restaurants
are
offer
ing

patrons salad greens gathered just fifteen minutes ago.

Supermarkets are exploring ways to tempt consumers with truly ‘fresh’ produce, harvested from the
roof today, rather than cold
-
stored
for days
and t
ransported at vast cost in energy and carbon
emissions.

Cities like Chicago are reinventing themselves around fresh food

and food tourism
.

Cities like Detroit
are turning old factories into farms.

Fish and vegetable (‘aquaponic’) farms are sprouting in
Ma
nhattan

and McBride, Canada
.
Boston is planning huge farm developments on city roofs.

Columbia University ecologist Dickson Despommier envisions towering translucent ‘vertical farms’,
architectural wonders to green and adorn the skyline of the future city
.

The world’s first ‘vertical
forest’ is being built in Milan as we speak. Other vertical farms
will include intensive livestock
production to make good use of vegetable waste.

As th
is

trend grows, it has the p
otential

to become something much, much larger. To avoid waste in
a century when all resources will be scarce the Australian concept of permaculture (‘permanent
agriculture

, entailing the recycling of water, nutrients and energy
using natural principles
)

will
be
applied

to entire cities.

Urban permaculture will be
come

a first principle of sustainable urban design


for buildings, homes,
suburbs
,

entire cities

and the societies that inhabit them
.


These ‘green cities

, alive with vegetation, fresh food, birds and insects, will gradually replace the
polluted,
soulless concrete and glass conurbations of today.

Slide
20
:
new foods

Worldwide,
the whole of humanity

subsists on

a couple of hundred

diffe
rent plants



and rel
ies
heavily on just
five

grains and five animals
.

Yet Tasmanian agricultural scientist Bruce French is compiling a database that already
lists

25,000
different
edible plant
species.

Modern h
umans, in other words, have
barely

begun t
he

explor
ation of
Planet Earth

in terms of its
culinary potential.

We have
undoubtedly
forgotten much that our ancestors knew about healthy and interesting diets
.

D
espite the illusion of diversity in the pack
ag
ed
foods on

supermarket

s
helves
,
out diet is far

narrower t
oday

that that enjoyed by previous civilisations

-

and is becoming narrower still due to
crop monocultures

and the elimination of local food industries
.


Many

edible plants which don’t feature in the modern diet are
still

consumed by indigenous
people

around t
he world


but this knowledge is often confined to a single tribe or local
village

and may
soon be lost
.

Many of these plants are vegetables


and vegetables can be produced using far less soil, water,
energy, carbon and fertiliser than either grains or m
eats.

They are cheaper
,

healthier and
more sustainable



plus you get several crops a year
.

This means vegetables

will inevitably
make up

a
much larger part

of the future global diet



and of
the future global feedstock for livestock raising
.

T
h
is

unt
apped diversity of edible plants offers diets that are not only more interesting, healthy and
sustainable, but also the prospects of new industries and jobs,
both
in cities and on farms
.

Th
ese

will
create employment for th
e billion or so
small farmers

who will be
driven

out of traditional
agriculture in coming decades by
the crushing

market power

of

giant supermarkets and food firms.

Slide 21: Aust plants

Australia alone, for example, has 6100 edible native plants


of which we regularly farm and eat j
ust
five or six.

I envision a day when Australian foods and flavour will play as large a role in a healthy world diet as
do foods originating in the Americas.
But it won’t happen if we continue to neglect them ourselves.

Slide 2
2
: high tech foods

New food
s will also emerge from the biotechnology laboratories of the world


more nutritious
grains and vegetables, faster
-
growing animals and fish
, better climate
-
adapted strains
.

These will only be adopted into the world diet, however,
at
the
rate and extent
s
anction
ed

by
consumers.

T
his, so far, has proved a stumbling block
, with opposition to GM foods rising in both the US and
Europe as well as in developing countries like India.

The issue will probably
be decided by

whether

food
and agribusiness
companies

can

develop novel
foods which
produce thinner, healthier

consumers

r
ather than just
fatter corporate

profits.

One of the weirdest high tech food
concepts

is the ‘food printer’ which, like your desktop printer or
cappuccino m
ac
hine, contains a supply of raw

nutrients which it lays down as layers to form the food
product you have specified.

Slide 23
: PHAA

The Public Health Association of Australia describes our present system as “a commercial success...
but a catastrophic food system failure”. They refer to
the large and growing number of people sick
and dying as a result of the modern Australian diet of salt, fat, sugar and chemicals


and the food
industry that has created it.

Linked to this is the diminish
ed

nutritional content of
modern
food, especially f
resh fruit and
vegetables, as a result of poor agricultural systems stripping the soil of essential micronutrients

-

which we need in our diet to prevent these lifestyle diseases.

The twin demands for a far healthier, more diverse diet and for a more susta
inable food production
system will be major drivers of change both in how we farm and how we produce food.

It is open to Australians, with our skills and adaptability, to become world leaders in this trend.

Slide 23
: other foods

Now briefly, a few foods you may not much care for, but which will play a greater role in future
diets.

A
bout 1400 species of insects are
already
on the menu worldwide. Insects take up little room, can be
fed on food waste, are low in fat and high in calc
ium and iron
.

They

are not part of the
traditional
western diet



but then there will not be many traditional
westerners around by 2100. How quickly they catch on

will depend on consumer preferences and
fashions, the willingness of cooks and food companies

to promote them as food
, and of farmers to
grow them
.

Again, they might be a useful part of a livestock feeding enterprise, converting waste to
edible food.

Plagues of jellyfish and algae in the world’s oceans are a direct result of humanity liberating
vast
amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus into the biosphere, and of overfishing of the species that
normally prey on them. Having polluted the seas, bays, lakes and estuaries, the attraction of
harvesting these products of the simplified ecosystems we have

created becomes obvious


so novel
foods made from both are very likely to emerge in coming decades.

Slide 24
:
Reinventing farming

Worldwide, the entire farming system that has supported us for the last 5000 years is being
gradually reinvented to cope wit
h looming shortages of land, water, oil, fertiliser

and changing
climates. This process will continue throughout the century.

By 2100 it is probable

that about half the world’s food will come from modern eco
-
farms (both
organic and high
-
tech), and about ha
lf from novel industrial and urban systems outlined above.

The farmed food will be a lot more expensive, reflecting the scarcity of the resources needed to
produce it and the very high skills required of farmers to do so sustainably. Robotics will provide

the
next phase of the precision agriculture revolution.

Where it is economic, food will probably be produced in the world’s deserts, using solar energy to
heat and cool huge greenhouses and extract fresh water from the sea or saline groundwater. Such
syst
ems could well be the salvation of regions such as the Middle East, Western China, Central Asia
and North Africa where agricultural resources are already strained to breaking point by surging
consumer demand



but it could be a great opportunity for Austra
lia to pioneer them
.

Climate change will penalise food production in the tropics, subtropics and lowlying coastal areas,
but
by 2100
will begin to open vast new lands for grain and grazing in the high north, with Canada
and Siberia poised to emerge as food

superpowers of the 22
nd

century.

Greenland and even the fringes of Antarctica may become hothouses of
specialty
food production.
U
r
ban agriculture will enable the restoration of tropical forests in
Latin America
,
Africa

and Asia,

and
the creation of have
ns to protect the world’s most endangered
wildlife
: at present the
biggest

threat
to global biodiversity is human eating habits.

In time to come, farmers may well earn respectable incomes from keeping animals like tigers,
gorillas, rhinos and Australian ma
rsupials alive on farms that a
re part
-
agriculture part
-
wildlife
sanctuary.

Slide 25
. Future food

These emerging trend
s

in food will surprise and
maybe horrify

some people


but

will excite
,

motivate
and inspire
many more

to feats of creativity and imagination
.

Like our homes
,

clothes,

music and art,

our food is not frozen in time and, while our diet respects
tradition, it is constantly in pursuit of n
ovelty
.

Food is one of the most creative things which humans do.

Driv
en by necessity and impelled by our urge to discover and try new things, the next
century

is
bound to be

the most adventurous and interesting in the 10,000 year story of
food
.

Ends


*Julian Cribb is an Australian science and agriculture write and author of

The Coming Famine: the
global food crisis and what we can do to avoid it (UCP 2010).