The idea of organic food has been around for a while, and now we have the farm-to-table movement. Wholefood stores are on the rise, and there are several diets available for a better life. That includes the paleo diet, which seeks to return our eating habits to those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. We are desperately trying to reconnect to a healthier diet and a more sustainable way to live our lives.
But in the modern, urbanized world, can we live from small organic farms that sustain small communities?
It would seem that there could be no way to feed the world on organic produce. We genetically modify plant strains not only to improve their longevity but also to protect against parasites and make the crops bigger and tastier. We use satellite technology to monitor the health of the soil over large swathes of land. And within agricultural processes, there’s a raft of different machinery and tech to maximize efficiency from harvesters to milking machines.
That produce is then processed in industrialized plants that can clean, cook, and process in mass quantities. Machines like filling equipment can handle thousands of bottles, cans, or plastic containers a day. That can be done across various industries, not just those that deal with food products. It’s not only for the domestic shopper who needs their mayonnaise, tinned beans, or toothpaste; it’s also for hospitals, schools, and airplanes. The evidence and need for processed and packaged products are everywhere.
That would simply not be possible if we did not have large industrial means of production, processing, and logistics to transport products around the world quickly and under ideal storage conditions.
Tech, a double-edged sword
All these modern industrialized methods of production result in availability and affordability. More people from a broader range of economic backgrounds have access to more food. Industrialization means that items are much cheaper than if one person on a farm produced them.
But in exchange for all these cheap, readily available products and produce, there seems to be a hefty price we have paid. Health issues, such as obesity and diabetes, are on the rise across the world. The planet is also struggling to cope with the increasing demands that humans are placing on its resources.
Best of both worlds
We cannot return to pre-industrialized communities that lived on organic food production and almost 100% farm-to-table operations. There are simply too many of us. However, we do not need to ruin our health and our planet. Similar machines that produced thousands of bottles of soda also produced thousands of bottles or cartons of milk. We could keep both but strike a better balance. That is a question of being more aware of our health. What we choose to consume ultimately rests with how we want to utilize tech and what we decide to purchase.
We have over-produced, and we do not necessarily produce the most diverse and healthiest range of food. However, we are becoming more aware of the pitfalls of modern farming, production, and excess. If we are smart, we can keep our ability to have cheaper and more available products without ruining our health or our planet.