What is it?
People become food insecure when they don't have the money or resources to access appropriate and healthy foods. This causes many negative life and health impacts for individuals and their community.
Not having access to enough food means eating less nutrients, this impacts every human-being. Mothers and their newborns have a higher risk of "birth defects, anemia, cognitive problems, aggression and anxiety."
When adults don't have access to food, it may cause "higher rates of mental health problems and depression, diabetes, being in poor health, and poor sleep outcomes."
People that worry about their very basic needs, like food and shelter, are less likely to be working members of society and give back to their community.
Causes of Food Insecurity
The world's population is getting bigger and the amount of people moving to cities is increasing.
Being unemployed or not having enough money or resources to regularly have sufficient food.
World Population Growth 1700-2100
Urbanization, the process of people moving to cities, increase the need for food in one area and decrease the amount of food available to supply to everyone.
As city's population continue to grow around the world, food deserts, areas with not enough access to supermarkets, grocery stores, and other shops to buy healthy and affordable foods are also increasing.
Urban Population Worldwide
By continent in 1950 and 2020 (in percentage)
Latin America & Caribbean
Due to the high amount of people needed to be fed in cities and our food currently being grown so far away from where we eat it, it reaches consumers with high prices, low quality, and a large part of this food being wasted.
We need to change the way we grow and produce, transport, and distribute our food to provide everyone with high quality, low price, and low waste meals.
Analyzing the Data
With 1 square meter of land, conventional farming can produce 1 kilo of vegetables.
With 1 square meter of land, new technologies can produce 75 kilos of vegetables.
With each square meter of growth from new technologies, we leave 74 square meters of land to the natural world.
Land used for conventional agricultural plots in Israel today
Land we could be using for agricultural plots through new technologies
With the use of new technologies, we could grow the same amount of produce we are growing today but with 0.4% of the land.
More than half of the land area in Israel is desert and conditions aren't favorable to farming, only 17.7% of the land is arable. In 2018 it was reported that 28.8% of the country's land was used for agriculture. So, 100% of the arable land in Israel is already occupied and plus 13.5% that isn't really suitable for growth.
Uncultivated arid region.
More than 50%
Area today used for agriculture
28.8% (all of arable land + 13.5% that is not suitable for growth)
Why a Paradigm Shift
Our current food system is not able to provide nutritious foods for a growing population while maintaining balance with the environment.
We need to flip the scale from:
*Green boxes show elements that increase food prices.
*Beige boxes show elements that decrease food quality.
*Blue boxes show elements that increase food waste.
We do not have enough land area to keep growing food the conventional way to feed a population that is constantly growing.
We are living through a water crisis, and conventional agriculture uses about 70% of the total fresh water around the world.
Since 56% of the world's population lives in cities, food has to be transported from long distances by airplanes, ships, and trucks, increasing prices.
The energy needed to supply food to everyone across the world makes the agriculture industry
responsible for about 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
1 out of 3 picked crops gets thrown away and does not reach consumers. Food that does not "look good" is overlooked for fear of not being sold.
To produce high food quantities at low cost, farmers are forced to grow large monocultures that are only maintained by a huge amount of dangerous pesticides and fertilizers.
Today, agriculture takes up 38% of global land surface.
Less than 3% of the world's water is fresh water. Due to climate change, Important lakes, rivers, and aquifers are drying up or becoming too polluted for use. While half of the world's wetlands have already disappeared.
Once produce is picked from the ground, the process of spoilage begins, food loses its moisture and nutrients decrease.
This makes the quality decrease!
Electricity is used in every step of the way through the food's production process. From cultivation to growth, harvesting and packaging, to transportation, distribution and finally to the consumer's kitchen.
The food that does reach consumers, sit in trucks and distribution centers for long periods, increasing spoilage and decreasing shelf-life.
These chemicals decrease soil quality and are absorbed by the food we eat and then by our bodies.
Until food reaches our plate, it goes through storage and changes in temperatures many times, causing quality to decrease.
The shorter the period between harvest-to-table the better.
According the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel has the highest levels of toxic substances in the pesticides used in their vegetables and fruits among developed countries.
If we continue to burn forests to make land available for agriculture, land will become expensive and so will our food.
Since our water supply is becoming limited,
if we keep using an immense amount of it to farm, food prices will increase due to the high use of a finite product.
If nonrenewable energy keeps fueling transportation to distribute food to long distances, prices will increase and so will the effects of climate change.
Energy prices have a direct impact on food prices. If harmful energy becomes taxed for its contribution to climate change, conventional agriculture will consume expensive energy
which will translate to expensive food and high food insecurity.
If large amounts of food keep going into landfills, where there is no oxygen and methane gas is produced, a dangerous greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide, the effects of climate change will keep increasing.
The long term use of pesticides cause us several negative health effects, for example " many forms of cancers, and reproductive harm like infertility and birth defects." Children are even more vulnerable to exposure to these chemicals.
A Paradigm Shift Would Include..
Farming vertically, growing as much food with as little space as possible.
Farming with technologies that use less water. For example hydroponics, which uses 99% less water than conventional farming methods.
Buying produce from local farms and markets to eliminate transportation needs. Indoor, vertical farming and automated technologies can be used to grow in populated areas (ie. in industrial zones or underground) making sure we grow our food close to where we eat it.
Farming with energy efficient technologies and those that use renewable energy sources.
Shopping local to reduce transportation time.
Indoor farming, hydroponics, and automated technologies all reduce the amount of food wasted throughout the farming process.
Shopping local to ensure food comes from small local farms that don't need to use pesticides.
Practices like indoor farming, hydroponics, and automated technologies all remove the need for high pesticide use
MOVING TORWARDS FOOD SECURITY
The solution to food security already exists: It is to grow our food nearby where we live using efficient technology that helps us produce more high quality food with a lower use of water, pesticides, energy and waste, while using less space and creating less damage to our bodies and the environment.
Today, we can all do small steps to move towards food security!
Some tips include:
Buying food directly from local farmers and markets
Eating fruits and vegetables within season, which guarantees they aren't being imported from long distances
Growing part of your food at home
Volunteering in activities in community gardens or schools
Reducing waste, not buying large quantities and eating leftover meals
Bringing home fruits and vegetables that don't look "perfect," they are just as good and delicious
Eating plant-based, reduce livestock and dairy consumption
Re-educate your family and friends
The Association for Urban Farming can help you get started, providing everything you need and guiding you through growing your favorite herbs and vegetables.
Efficient farming technologies and solutions include:
These solutions can happen at many scales, right now we will focus on:
Workplace and Schools
We are envisioning a life where through producing food at these scales, we start to achieve a more food secure future.
Imagine our main source of food production within the city will be large, self-resilient factories that use today's technologies to maximize efficiency and productivity. Indoor and climate controlled environments that are not at risk to weather changes and forces that could damage food or suddenly change prices. These would be designed to be replicated in cities around the world, adapting to their climatic, structural, and dietary needs.
Community growing involves gardening within the city that provides food for specific neighborhoods. This builds more green spaces, areas of rest in dense cities, increasing biodiversity and decreasing urban heat island effect; while creating educational spaces to teach children and the community techniques that they can implement at home.
Worksites and schools would take on the responsibility of providing the space to grow and to feed nutritious and organic foods. These can be productive zones within organizations and buildings that focus on growing, and provide food to workers and students, in the form of meals or as raw ingredients for cooking at home.
Although at home, each individual can only grow what is available to them in regards to space and resources, small scale container gardening and mini hydroponic systems can be great for nurturing herbs, microgreens, and some vegetables.