Feeling full and grateful today? Good. Let’s learn about one of the most difficult challenges humans face in this day and age.
An overall increase in global education has led to some pretty amazing trends. One of those is consumers around the world are starting to demand healthier foods. It’s not surprising that here in the US, fresh produce is the fastest growing sector of the industry.
That’s great news. Right? Less processed foods? A Healthier population?
Sure, but an increase in the demand for fresh produce comes with its own challenges.
Currently, agriculture is necessary for our survival as a species. The industry itself employs about 1/3 of the total population. Globally, farmers grow enough food to feed a population of 10 billion people.
Unsustainable agricultural practices have put quite a strain on the planet. Pasture and cropland currently occupy over 30% of the entire world. To accomplish this feat, millions of acres of habitat and forest was destroyed. Around 5,400 species of vertebrates (animals with a backbone) are directly threatened by agriculture and farming is the number one threat to wildlife.
Although harvesting, processing, and transporting our produce is extremely energy intensive, the sun really helps out with the energy costs of traditional agriculture. No lights necessary.
Unfortunately the rain doesn’t always cooperate. Even though 80% of the planet’s farmland is rainfed, traditional agriculture still accounts for 70% of all global water consumption. Which means an increase in demand for vegetables could really put a strain on our global water supply. Not an ideal situation when we’re going to have 2 billion more thirsty folks in the next 30 years.
Another big issue with our traditional farming industry is agricultural runoff. Crops require nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen to grow. Administering nutrients in the right amounts and for the right time period is really difficult. This leads to excess nutrients being washed away by rain and irrigation, eventually finding their way into groundwater and the ocean.
High levels of nutrients in bodies of water can cause eutrophication, a super fun word to say with not super fun connotations. Eutrophication (I say it out loud every time I write it) causes things like harmful algal blooms and marine dead zones leading to massive fish contamination events and die offs.
Like I said, not super fun.
So how do we get all of these new found conscious consumers the delicious veggies that they seek without totally destroying the planet?
Jeesh, that’s a really loaded question for a Friday afternoon.
But, of course, we have a nice creative solution to share with you.
And it’ll be right inside your inbox on Monday morning.
Click below to share!