Dr. Cross, the director of the College of Discovery, Creativity, and Innovation and creator of UNIV 201 made a remark at the beginning of the semester that has been myelinating in my mind without end: Food is the “common denominator of people.” The Chancellor’s Dinner at TELUS Spark on March 14th further strengthened that claim, with administrators, media representatives, and students accelerating towards the common goal of feeding the 795 million people who currently suffer from food insecurity (FAO, 2015).
So, what aspect of this global challenge will be most important to address right away?
I believe food waste is the most important challenge to overcome and that this can be done through technological innovation, specifically through urban farming (and alternative protein, which I am currently researching with my peers).
Hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics all refer to systems of agriculture that circulate and reutilize nutritiously supplemented water to grow crops such as tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, thyme, beans, and mint. These systems generally appear in “vertical farms.” Vertical farming is a relatively simple yet incredibly innovative system of food production that produces crops through a distribution of layered stacks in a warehouse or greenhouse by using LED’s as artificial radiation and recycling water. There are instantly several questions one is eager to ask: In what ways is vertical farming more practical than field farming? What is the cost of all the artificial lighting? Will building vertical farms in major metropoles provide a solution to society’s massive carbon footprint or provide food security for the million.
These are questions which still need to be answered, but what I have picked up in the UNIV 201 course is that these systems must be brought to developing countries. In Africa, the population will rise to 4 billion by 2100 (Gapminder Foundation, 2014), though most of these people will not possess the means to receive proper nutrition without innovations and investments provided by philanthropists and ecologically-mindful entrepreneurs and by the people who recognize the common denominator and are determined to solve food insecurity.
FAO, IFAD and WFP. (2015). The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015. Meeting the 2015 international hunger targets: taking stock of uneven progress. Rome, FAO. Accessed on March 31, 2017, from http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4646e.pdf.
Gapminder Foundation. (2014). DON’T PANIC — Hans Rosling showing the facts about population. Accessed on March 1, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FACK2knC08E&t=588s.