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The keyword in this development is precision. With an Internet of Food, we have the tools to be precise when it comes to our food. We will no longer have to generalize and hope for a higher average, but will instead determine and control exactly what, when, where, and how we grow and consume our food.

Environmental impact

They gather over 130,000 points of data every harvest, and the harvest cycle is significantly faster and more efficient than field farming. The productivity per square inch is nearly 400 times higher, in fact.

A far cry from a rooftop greenhouse, AeroFarms grows crops in a warehouse complex. Inside, towers of vertically stacked crops thrive without soil or sunlight, thanks to modern technology. Every inch of the environment is carefully monitored and controlled. 

Towers of vertically stacked crops thrive without soil or sunlight, thanks to modern technology.

Big data has proved its efficacy in many areas. From marketing to sports to behavioral science, information is everything. So why should food be any different? It shouldn’t, according to many initiatives like AeroFarms in Newark, NJ. AeroFarms is pioneering a new generation of urban farms. 

Precise production

With an Internet of Food, we have the tools to be precise when it comes to our food.

The potential of this kind of far-reaching integration of technology and our food is nearly limitless. It goes far beyond being able to meet the production quotas required for the growing global population, far beyond even abolishing harmful pesticide or fertilizer use. 

Precise control

In the last several hundred years, however, another constant has been steadily inserting itself into our lives: technology. In our exponential age technology is inescapable and omnipresent. It seems strange, then, that food and technology are still such separate spheres of influence. Food is mostly an offline endeavor, personal instead of universal. To safeguard the future of our food system, however, that is likely to change. We don’t just need an Internet of Things, we need an Internet of Food.

Jelle Steenbergen Xiao-Er Kong 

Food is at the center of everything we do. Everyone needs to eat, and we have used this universal constant as a cultural touchstone for all of our history. 

Why we want an Internet of Food

The benefits of this level of technology aren’t just apparent in productivity, but in many other areas as well. The environmental impact of technology-assisted farming is dramatically lower, mostly due to staggering increases in resource efficiency. 

A system like AeroFarms uses up to 95% less water than traditional field farming, but even those traditional field farms benefit from the connectivity that comes with an Internet of Food. By equipping cattle with sensors, for example, farmers will be able to tell which areas of their field have been naturally fertilized and only apply – carefully calibrated and consistent – fertilizer to the areas that need it. They can also use the same technology to remotely monitor the cattle’s health, fitness, and determine optimal breeding times. 

Freedom of choice

Chefs, too, stand to benefit from an Internet of Food. In the current system many chefs are (willingly) limited by seasonality. Different ingredients grow at different times, after all. Nature does as nature wills, but if we can mimic the ideal natural conditions for seasonal ingredients in a closed, controlled system, then all bets would be off. Summer vegetables could easily grow in the heart of winter then, and ingredients that only grow in specific regions of the world would be available everywhere. Ensuring quality would be a breeze because the sensors would allow us to contrast and compare every fiber in every root. 

An Internet of Food is more than just a pipe dream, much of the technology already exists, and brilliant minds all over the world are working hard to make it a reality. Urban Crops in Belgium has managed to fully automate the vertical farm concept. The European Union backed Internet of Food & Farm 2020 project is running large-scale trials in five different agricultural sectors. The Internet of Tomatoes has already led to some astonishing naturally grown tomato variationsJacob van den Borne, a humble potato farmer from the Netherlands uses drones and other advanced monitoring technology to more than double the average yield of his potato farm. The Internet of Food is happening all around us, and the future certainly looks exciting.

Making it happen

When implementing an Internet of Food, we should absolutely be mindful of the possible negative consequences, and make sure to work with those affected to minimize the impact. Internet of Food technology could help these countries with diversifying their crops, as well as increasing reliability and yield.

That isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however, as many agricultural products in high demand – like coffee for example – come from countries that heavily depend on the income generated by exporting these products. Losing a significant portion of that would have a tangible negative impact on the people. 

If we can mimic the ideal natural conditions for seasonal ingredients in a closed, controlled system, then all bets are off. 

In the Netherlands, for instance, Wageningen University & Research has started a project to grow vanilla beans in Dutch greenhouses. If they manage to do this successfully, vanilla would no longer have to be imported from elsewhere. 

A darker side

Big data has proved its efficacy in many areas. From marketing to sports to behavioral science, information is everything. So why should food be any different? It shouldn’t, according to many initiatives like AeroFarms in Newark, NJ. AeroFarms is pioneering a new generation of urban farms. 

Precise production

The keyword in this development is precision. With an Internet of Food, we have the tools to be precise when it comes to our food. We will no longer have to generalize and hope for a higher average, but will instead determine and control exactly what, when, where, and how we grow and consume our food.

With an Internet of Food, we have the tools to be precise when it comes to our food.

Towers of vertically stacked crops thrive without soil or sunlight, thanks to modern technology.

The potential of this kind of far-reaching integration of technology and our food is nearly limitless. It goes far beyond being able to meet the production quotas required for the growing global population, far beyond even abolishing harmful pesticide or fertilizer use. 

Precise control

In the last several hundred years, however, another constant has been steadily inserting itself into our lives: technology. In our exponential age technology is inescapable and omnipresent. It seems strange, then, that food and technology are still such separate spheres of influence. Food is mostly an offline endeavor, personal instead of universal. To safeguard the future of our food system, however, that is likely to change. We don’t just need an Internet of Things, we need an Internet of Food.

Jelle Steenbergen Xiao-Er Kong 

Food is at the center of everything we do. Everyone needs to eat, and we have used this universal constant as a cultural touchstone for all of our history. 

Why we want an internet of food

If we can mimic the ideal natural conditions for seasonal ingredients in a closed, controlled system, then all bets are off. 

An Internet of Food is more than just a pipe dream, much of the technology already exists, and brilliant minds all over the world are working hard to make it a reality. 

Urban Crops in Belgium has managed to fully automate the vertical farm concept. The European Union backed Internet of Food & Farm 2020 project is running large-scale trials in five different agricultural sectors. The Internet of Tomatoes has already led to some astonishing naturally grown tomato variationsJacob van den Borne, a humble potato farmer from the Netherlands uses drones and other advanced monitoring technology to more than double the average yield of his potato farm. 

The Internet of Food is happening all around us, and the future certainly looks exciting.

Making it happen

When implementing an Internet of Food, we should absolutely be mindful of the possible negative consequences, and make sure to work with those affected to minimize the impact. Internet of Food technology could help these countries with diversifying their crops, as well as increasing reliability and yield.

That isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however, as many agricultural products in high demand – like coffee for example – come from countries that heavily depend on the income generated by exporting these products. Losing a significant portion of that would have a tangible negative impact on the people. 

A far cry from a rooftop greenhouse, AeroFarms grows crops in a warehouse complex. Inside, towers of vertically stacked crops thrive without soil or sunlight, thanks to modern technology. Every inch of the environment is carefully monitored and controlled. 

In the Netherlands, for instance, Wageningen University & Research has started a project to grow vanilla beans in Dutch greenhouses. If they manage to do this successfully, vanilla would no longer have to be imported from elsewhere. 

A darker side

Chefs, too, stand to benefit from an Internet of Food. In the current system many chefs are (willingly) limited by seasonality. Different ingredients grow at different times, after all. Nature does as nature wills, but if we can mimic the ideal natural conditions for seasonal ingredients in a closed, controlled system, then all bets would be off. 

Summer vegetables could easily grow in the heart of winter then, and ingredients that only grow in specific regions of the world would be available everywhere. Ensuring quality would be a breeze because the sensors would allow us to contrast and compare every fiber in every root. 

Freedom of choice

The benefits of this level of technology aren’t just apparent in productivity, but in many other areas as well. The environmental impact of technology-assisted farming is dramatically lower, mostly due to staggering increases in resource efficiency. 

A system like AeroFarms uses up to 95% less water than traditional field farming, but even those traditional field farms benefit from the connectivity that comes with an Internet of Food. By equipping cattle with sensors, for example, farmers will be able to tell which areas of their field have been naturally fertilized and only apply – carefully calibrated and consistent – fertilizer to the areas that need it. They can also use the same technology to remotely monitor the cattle’s health, fitness, and determine optimal breeding times. 

Environmental impact

They gather over 130,000 points of data every harvest, and the harvest cycle is significantly faster and more efficient than field farming. The productivity per square inch is nearly 400 times higher, in fact.

Overview magazines

Food Inspiration Magazine is the online magazine for foodservice professionals in search of inspiration and innovation. With the magazine we collect, enrich and spread inspiration. The free subscription magazine is published eight times per year and is an abundant source of inspiration for food and hospitality professionals. Our readers can be found in the U.S., Northern Europe, Latin America and Asia.
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