It’s impossible to discuss the future of food without addressing three important facts: Our population is growing, our production land is not growing and the climate is changing.
Often when we think about the future, our minds go to exciting high-tech innovations in food production. Bio-tech firms making oil from algae, or a Texas cricket farm. More than a dozen companies are marketing lab-grown meat.
What the food on our plates looks like is only one part of the equation. Consumer behavior, farming practices and food distribution aren’t as flashy, but they are equally important to the future of food. Land O’Lakes, Inc. knows this better than most: Our involvement in every step of the farm-to-fork journey gives us a unique perspective of both the challenges we face and the endless opportunities for innovation.
Land O’Lakes is committed to Feeding Human Progress™ by bringing the future of food and the supply chain to the forefront of the national conversation. Land O’Lakes hosted a 2018 SXSW panel titled “Revolutionizing the Food Chain” moderated by National Geographic’s executive digital editor Dan Gilgoff, where three food experts discussed the pitfalls of our current food system and opportunities to improve it.
Nina Ichikawa, policy director at Berkeley Food Institute, argues that any discussion about the future of food will have to tackle food waste. The pathway to a sustainable and equitable future lies in using our current resources much better by distributing more effectively, reducing food loss and improving our refrigeration chain. For Nina, food is one of the most beautiful expressions of culture that links us to our ancestors and allows us to pass our legacy on to future generations. With each meal, we have an opportunity to create culture, define our values and share them with people we love.
Shakirah Simley is a writer, community activist and founder of Nourish Resist. Throughout her career in the restaurant and broader agriculture industries, she has realized how chefs can make a difference by using their kitchens as laboratories and incubators for the communities they serve. According to Shakirah, a consumer’s immediate environment is the biggest factor in determining behavior. We are under the impression that we have control over our food choices, when in reality, your ZIP code is one of the largest indicators of health and food access.
She hopes that in the future, anyone who is running for public office makes sure food is part of their platform and that more people become aware of how food intersects with equally important issues such as health, economy, transportation and immigration.
At the MIT Media Lab, Director’s Fellow Arielle Johnson’s work emphasizes breaking down boundaries between the kitchen and the laboratory. As a flavor scientist, her experience in research and development has cemented the importance of ethics in science and technology. She maintains that the scientific method itself is rational and dispassionate, but the values and questions that an individual brings to the science is inherently political and nuanced. Arielle stresses that science-based innovations are essential to fixing our food system, so it is imperative that creators of new technology take measures to ensure their inventions increase access to food instead of replicating current patterns of inequality.
Nina, Shakirah and Arielle are inspiring examples of people who are working tirelessly to create positive change in our food system. Land O’Lakes is committed to living our co-op values and working together to build strong communities, create enduring livelihoods and be responsible stewards of our natural resources as we work to feed our hungry and growing population.