Last night, SBS aired The Future of Food episode 2 (watch here for a limited time). It was in some ways a little repetitive of the first part, previously discussed, but it did branch into some of my favourite topics (that I first became aware of back in the late 80’s as a kid watching Beyond 2000). In this episode they covered true innovative thinking about food security – the synergy of technology and methodology developed by nature over more than three billion years, such as aquaculture (see Peter Sinclair’s post on this also) and finding productive uses for waste – thereby turning a linear process system into a loop (see the video attached even more ideas along this line of thinking – another h/t to Peter).
The other aspect of the second episode was urban gardens. When all of these are applied (and people with sizable yards also grow some of their own food) a community goes along way in improving their own food security. Another major plug at the upcoming Gen[A] project!
Of course, there is a glaring economic problem as Andrew Mason, from the University of Southern Queensland has previously stated (in this podcast), “The normal measure of an economy, which looks at Gross Domestic Product [GPD] and those sorts of things, Gross National Product, doesn’t really measure our lives, it just measure economic things. So if you go and buy some vegies from the supermarket, that contributes to GPD, so it looks good on the economy. But if you grow vegies in your own backyard, it doesn’t contribute to GPD. So things like car crashes contribute to GPD because, you know, people are employed fixing cars and looking after things and you know the people that go to hospital to be treated; all that contributes to GPD. Whereas going for a walk in the park doesn’t. So they’re trying to work out how to model economics that will more accurately reflect a happy society.”
In Life Boat Cities, Brendan Gleeson makes much the same point, suggesting that community health would make a better indicator than GPD – where the care industry (of which we’re all reliant upon for various reasons at different stages of our life) would be paramount and also not driven by profit.
It’s easy to see how cyclic resource processes would be unable to generate the profits we’re currently familiar with, but at the same time would increase resource security. Arguably, this could be seen as the driving force behind the obvious resistance to adopting increasingly sustainable practices away from business as usual; current economic models see such changes as sacrifices too great to contemplate, while more humanistic principles would argue that the risks of business as usual are too great to ignore.
The biggest reform would need to be a economic one. Episode 2 of The Future of Food, as well as Michael Pawlyn’s, Using nature’s genius in architecture, presentation above both provide tantalising glimpses of a highly productive future; one that could be highly profitable, but not in ways we’re familiar with. It would be a new society, arguably a happier and more innovative one and certainly a society capable of meeting the challenges ahead.