…Food… the substance to keep us alive, the reason for one of the most amazing things we can devour and enjoy, the reason to meet with friends, the thing that we sometimes abuse having in our bellies or forget to consume on time for a healthier living. So many topics relates to it: food waste, food management, food production, toxic food vs. healthy food, food eating, food and public health (is what children at school eat healthy enough?), poverty and food, wealth and food, labour costs and rights when working in this industry, auditing and inspection of food (so many… exquisite food, shrimp production and labour costs of people producing food, McDonalds). Let’s just call it in one word: “Food industry”.
During her bachelor Environmental Science, Michelle discovered ‘vertical farming’. She wondered how she could implement a vertical farming system in combination with a knowledge center. Subsequently, she wants to create awareness, and activate and inspire people about the environment. Eventually, after six months of doing research, she was convinced to launch Botanica Innovare.
The transition of a civilisation. Research on food (industry), an introduction.
“Life is good! You can move easily from A to B, buy the most exotic products in the supermarket and you always have access to clean water and electricity. What do we want more? Well, it would be nice if we can continue this life and pass it on to future generations. That is possible, however, this way of life begins to take its toll on the earth. In fact, we are plundering our beloved planet. This is something that each of us is responsible of. It is not completely strange because it is the way we are shaped by society. It is mainly about consumption rather than the familiar consuming less. We know this damn well as a consumer and yet we still go for the bargains. Is it denial, a habit or laziness?
The end is nowhere near and it is time for a transition! A transition in which we turn from an unconscious unhealthy society to an unconscious healthy society. A society in which we take responsibility for our actions. A society where we can be proud of and which makes it possible to pass our earth to future generations. You might be wondering where you should start. That is up to you because you are the one who has the potential to initiate changes with small actions. For example, stop buying plastic bags, look at the origin of your food or take your bike for a spin instead of your car. Furthermore, sustainable development needs to be encouraged. Fortunately, people understand the necessity of change. Last year, in September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. If these Goals are completed, it would mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. Our governments have a plan to save our planet…it’s our job to make sure they stick to it.
That brings us to the second Global Goal: Zero Hunger. This Goal states that we must end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. The beauty is that we can make this happen! Companies and research institutes are considering this issue for years. New cultivation techniques are becoming increasingly realistic. All over the world, different vertical farming systems are designed and tested. Also the hydroculture (growth on water) and hydroponic systems are increasing. If we look at the alternatives to meat, we see the frequent use of insect and the development of cultured meat.
For the time being, we in the Netherlands can (only) make use of vegetables that have been grown on water. Further investment and development is necessary for other food production systems. And that while the vertical system is already used in other parts of the world. Think of Japan where they can’t grow safe food in the open ground after the nuclear disaster. Here, the need for alternative systems is much larger. Therefore, these sustainable developments should be more encouraged in Europe. Luckily, this is already happening.
It is as Socrates once said: “it is often better to ask good questions than to give good answers. With questions, you move others to examine their own experiences and ideas. That triggers learning processes that may be more effective than knowledge.” Dare to ask questions about new food production systems and inform yourself. Dare to be open minded because this is our future. These movements should not be seen as an adversary but it should lead to solidarity. Next week, I am going to talk about LED farming, cultured meat and more. I hope this article inspired you and made you realize that you are the one that can change our civilization.
A transition is a structural change that is the result of interacting and mutually reinforcing developments in areas such as economy, culture, technology, institutions and nature and the environment.
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present generation without jeopardizing the future generations.
By Michelle Jongen, founder at Botanica Innovare.
With love for Research,