Bridging the gap
For much of human history, almost every member of society was involved in the process of acquiring and preparing food. The increasing industrialisation of agriculture has created a wide gap between food production and consumption in the western world. We are increasingly alienated from our food, leading to a lack of understanding of both the ethical consequences and the health implications of what we choose to eat, and increasing the power that the corporate food production system holds over us .
Creating a greater connection between production and consumption is necessary to solve many of the current problems facing our food system. However, our lives are now too hectic and our land too scarce to incorporate traditional farming or foraging in to our daily routine, and we are used to a varied diet sourced from across the globe. I am interested in how advances in science can allow us to produce our own healthy, sustainable and exciting food at home, and would like to explore how the concept of the ‘kitchen’ could be expanded to include food production as well as food preparation.
A new kind of greenhouse
New technologies within urban farming are already poised to play an important role in the future of agriculture . While many such ventures retain separation between producer and consumer, projects such as the Pasona Urban Farm have successfully shown that incorporating food production in to people’s daily lives can be both easy and beneficial . This 215,000 sq ft corporate building in Tokyo is home to over 200 species of plant. All are maintained and harvested by the Pasona Group employees, and the produce is served in the building’s cafeterias. I would like to explore how something similar could be achieved within a home or local community space.
There’s an app for that
There are many benefits to incorporating living architecture in to our urban spaces. Green walls, for example, reduce air pollution and flooding, improve local biodiversity and increase the wellbeing of those around them . The growing trend for ‘house jungles’ among millennials shows how much people enjoy nurturing plants . Coupling this enthusiasm for living spaces with food production is a logical step. Indeed, various smart devices have been developed which allow fresh food to be grown simply and efficiently even within a small home. One of these, the SproutsIO, can grow a range of fruit and veg in a soil free system, with users even able to control the taste of their produce with an app . However, scale and variety are at this point limited.
More than just your five-a-day
At a commercial scale, low-carbon production of essential amino acids and other nutrients has experienced many successful recent innovations. Nutrient rich algal protein is on the rise as an exciting health food , and closed loop production systems allow cultivation of algae at the industrial scale to produce highly valued nutrients such as Omega 3 . Mycoprotein, made from fungi grown in fermenters, has already seen huge commercial success . However, there has been very little research in to production of algae or fungi at the home scale. As a group, we are interested in expanding the idea of ‘home gardening’ to include production of protein and other nutrients. We also plan to explore how kitchen waste could be used to provide energy and nutrients to power this protein production.
- Korthals, M.(2015-01-29). Ethics of Food Production and Consumption. In The Oxford Handbook of Food, Politics, and Society. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 15 Feb. 2018, from http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195397772.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780195397772-e-022