Vertical farms: Growing more food where people live

Vertical farming. It just makes sense to me.

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BetterLife Growers will use ‘tower gardens’ like these to grow lettuce and herbs in Atlanta. PHOTO: SCISSORTAIL FARMS

 

The world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, 33% more people than are on the planet today, according to projections from the United Nations. About two-thirds of them are expected to live in cities, continuing a migration that has been under way around the world for years.

That’s a lot of mouths to feed, particularly in urban areas. Getting food to people who live far from farms—sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles away—is costly and strains natural resources. And heavy rains, droughts and other extreme weather events can threaten supplies.

That’s how Betsy McKay of the Wall Street Journal summarized the case for urban commercial farms.

While there are questions about the business model and sustainability of early pioneers in the niche, to my mind, there is no question we simply must figure out a way to make the numbers work.

In addition to the food-energy-dollar factors, I’m hoping someone explores the opportunities for education and workforce development as well.

Vertical “factory farms” in warehouses may not have the visual appeal of Vermont’s rural working landscape, but from my albeit limited experience, the kale tastes just as good.

~ Pat

Source: A Farm Grows in the City, by Betsy McKay, Wall Street Journal

 

Personal Food Consumption Visualized

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Beyond the visual appeal of this study from information aesthetics on “Personal Food Consumption Visualized in 40 Different Ways,” I am struck by its potential as a tool to encourage healthy eating.

A mobile app that enabled people to visually catalog their food choices just seems to offer such potential as a preemptive tool — building a mental image of different colors and balanced plates during the day would certainly appeal to me!

Food and Money: The Value Of A Dollar Translated

The Value Of A Dollar

To visualize the The Value Of A Dollar, artist Jonathan Blaustein purchased exactly one-bucks-worth of nineteen different foodstuffs, and photographed each, stripped from its packaging, on a plain white background. Blaustein explains:

I’m interested in the way photography is used to deceive. Millions, if not billions of advertising dollars are spent annually photographing food and obfuscating reality. Fast food conglomerates are certainly the worst culprits, but everywhere we see glamorized versions of what we eat.

To learn more, see the full series and his New York Times LENS Blog interview.

[Jonathan Blaustein via kottke]

 

These striking images remind me again of my fascination in how words can be used to deceive. The impact of marketing and advertising is based on this powerful combination of words and photography. Sadly, for food and sustainable agriculture, the power has not been used well.

GMOs Lose a Round >> Monsanto Gets Beat–May Lose Beets (cartoon)

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A victory for anyone who likes healthy food, soil, and water! Monsanto’s sour plans for the sweet beet were spoiled as a federal judge banned genetically modified sugar beets.

This is great news and hopefully a large step forward to getting food production back on a less toxic track.

For a long time now, I’ve harbored the desire to develop my editorial cartoon inner self. This timely take on the court ruling against Monsanto’s genetically modified sugar beets is a perfect example of why.

Designing Regenerative Food Systems: Worldchanging

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This post on urban food systems using permaculture is part of Worldchanging’s series on the Living Future 2010 conference. Permaculture is one of those ideas that fascinates me. It simply resonates with my practical self that lightly managing the relationship between symbiotic living organisms to create food is a smart and sustainable concept. Why is it we don’t hear more about this?

The Gates Notes: We Need Productivity and Sustainability

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Helping poor farmers improve productivity is a critical step in reducing global hunger. But there is an ideological divide over how best to help them. The truth is that both sides have something important to offer. http://www.thegatesnotes.com/Thinking/article.aspx?ID=99

Bill Gates includes food and agriculture on his new personal brand website. Interesting thoughts from an influential source.

Climate-Changing Dirt | Miller-McCune Online Magazine

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Could soil engineered specifically to maximize carbon storage dampen some effects of climate change? Very possibly, according to the scientists featured in this article.

Why is it we hear so little about this research in the mainstream media? Miller-McCune and New Scientist magazines/websites both tend to excite me with research about new possibilities to address our world’s most vexing problems, while at the same time creating frustration about my lack of time to vet those possibilities. I yearn for a team of personal science fact-checkers.