rethinking the food chain in practice

  3 min

TRENDWATCH

Jelle Steenbergen  Xiao Er Kong

The need for a more sustainable and resilient food chain has been apparent for a while now, but the grand disruptions of 2020, chief among them the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, have shone a harsh light on the inadequacies of our current system. When rethinking the food chain there are two dominant philosophies towards solving those shortcomings. For some it’s about embracing ancient, timeless techniques to reestablish harmony with nature, while for others the answers lie in new technologies and their applications. Here are 4 examples of these low and high tech approaches.

Low tech regenerative farm

Located in the Niigata Prefecture in Japan, in a small mountain village technically part of the city of Jōetsu, lies the Kuroiwa Permaculture Farm. Started by Emilio Garcia Barranco from Spain, this regenerative farm is a perfect example of the small scale, low tech approach towards rethinking the food chain. The farm has chickens, goats, ducks, and grows a variety of vegetables including corn and rice. Rather than the monolithic ranches we’re used to seeing, the Kuroiwa Permaculture Farm is made up of different tiny plots spread around the mountain village. The farm positions itself at the heart of the community, and locals often volunteer to help out. They have an active YouTube channel showing the growth and development of the project.

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Low tech shellfish farm

Hama Hama is a fifth generation shellfish farm on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. In their own words their harvest schedule is set by planetary forces, and not corporate ones. Aquaculture like this is a potential path towards a better food chain. Creatures like oysters serve as natural filtrators that can help improve water quality and restore environmentally compromised ecosystems. When employed correctly aquaculture has the lowest greenhouse emissions of any animal food production. Hama Hama is additionally interesting because they are also involved in forestry. The forests serve as the nutrient base for their shellfish, and so taking good care of that part of nature is essential for both planet and business. 2020 also saw them successfully pivot to e-commerce in the wake of indefinite restaurant closures.

High tech anaerobic digester

Advanced technology made to serve in low tech areas is a popular avenue for reevaluating the food chain. The Waste Transformers do this by creating a containerized anaerobic digester, which can be planted anywhere to turn organic waste into clean energy and organic fertilizer. The biggest upside is the lack of technical knowledge required to operate the digesters, making them suitable for a wide range of uses. Recently the company partnered with IKEA to transform non-consumable food waste at their store in Haarlem, The Netherlands, into power and fertilizer for their food program. 

infarm-inhub-farming_...

© diephotodesigner.de

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© InFarm-Nederland

High tech farm pods

German company InFarm radically shortens the food chain by integrating miniature farm pods directly into the fruits and vegetable aisle of supermarkets or restaurant kitchens. The company is active in the US and Europe and prides itself on using 95 percent less water, 75 percent less fertilizer, and 99 percent less space than traditional farms, all the while saving 90 percent on transportation. The farm pods can grow a variety of leafy greens and herbs. They’re still a ways off providing the variety we’ve grown accustomed to, but it’s hard to argue with the convenience. Especially considering each InFarm pod is controlled remotely through the cloud, and is able to make a myriad of tiny adjustments to ensure the best growth.

These concepts are merely the tip of the iceberg in this vibrant space, and while either path may eventually lead to Rome, we are likely to need both when it comes to combating the monumental problems facing our planet and food system. It is important to remember that high tech and low tech approaches need not be mutually exclusive. If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that the best way forward is together.

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Low and high tech solutions

RETHINKING THE FOOD CHAIN IN PRACTICE

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  3 min

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

Jelle Steenbergen  Xiao Er Kong

The need for a more sustainable and resilient food chain has been apparent for a while now, but the grand disruptions of 2020, chief among them the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, have shone a harsh light on the inadequacies of our current system. When rethinking the food chain there are two dominant philosophies towards solving those shortcomings. For some it’s about embracing ancient, timeless techniques to reestablish harmony with nature, while for others the answers lie in new technologies and their applications. Here are 4 examples of these low and high tech approaches.

RETHINKING THE FOOD CHAIN IN PRACTICE

Low and high tech solutions

Low tech regenerative farm

Located in the Niigata Prefecture in Japan, in a small mountain village technically part of the city of Jōetsu, lies the Kuroiwa Permaculture Farm. Started by Emilio Garcia Barranco from Spain, this regenerative farm is a perfect example of the small scale, low tech approach towards rethinking the food chain. The farm has chickens, goats, ducks, and grows a variety of vegetables including corn and rice. Rather than the monolithic ranches we’re used to seeing, the Kuroiwa Permaculture Farm is made up of different tiny plots spread around the mountain village. The farm positions itself at the heart of the community, and locals often volunteer to help out. They have an active YouTube channel showing the growth and development of the project.

chrome.svg

High tech anaerobic digester

Advanced technology made to serve in low tech areas is a popular avenue for reevaluating the food chain. The Waste Transformers do this by creating a containerized anaerobic digester, which can be planted anywhere to turn organic waste into clean energy and organic fertilizer. The biggest upside is the lack of technical knowledge required to operate the digesters, making them suitable for a wide range of uses. Recently the company partnered with IKEA to transform non-consumable food waste at their store in Haarlem, The Netherlands, into power and fertilizer for their food program. 

Low tech shellfish farm

Hama Hama is a fifth generation shellfish farm on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. In their own words their harvest schedule is set by planetary forces, and not corporate ones. Aquaculture like this is a potential path towards a better food chain. Creatures like oysters serve as natural filtrators that can help improve water quality and restore environmentally compromised ecosystems. When employed correctly aquaculture has the lowest greenhouse emissions of any animal food production. Hama Hama is additionally interesting because they are also involved in forestry. The forests serve as the nutrient base for their shellfish, and so taking good care of that part of nature is essential for both planet and business. 2020 also saw them successfully pivot to e-commerce in the wake of indefinite restaurant closures.

infarm-inhub-farming_...

© diephotodesigner.de

High tech farm pods

German company InFarm radically shortens the food chain by integrating miniature farm pods directly into the fruits and vegetable aisle of supermarkets or restaurant kitchens. The company is active in the US and Europe and prides itself on using 95 percent less water, 75 percent less fertilizer, and 99 percent less space than traditional farms, all the while saving 90 percent on transportation. The farm pods can grow a variety of leafy greens and herbs. They’re still a ways off providing the variety we’ve grown accustomed to, but it’s hard to argue with the convenience. Especially considering each InFarm pod is controlled remotely through the cloud, and is able to make a myriad of tiny adjustments to ensure the best growth.

chrome2.svg credits_-infarm-neder...

© InFarm-Nederland

These concepts are merely the tip of the iceberg in this vibrant space, and while either path may eventually lead to Rome, we are likely to need both when it comes to combating the monumental problems facing our planet and food system. It is important to remember that high tech and low tech approaches need not be mutually exclusive. If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that the best way forward is together.

berg.svg

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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