Urban and rural food growers need to put a greater emphasis on the value of their food production and consider better sustainability methods. At the same time, those in the technology world also need to consider how we can innovate to solve a global problem together—food waste. The good news is change is coming—and in some cases it is already here.
In my new book, Sustainable in a Circular World, I talk about why we desperately need innovation in many different areas, one of which is food waste. We know that nearly one third of all food is lost or wasted globally, which is an estimated 1.3 billion tons each year. Couple this with the fact that at the same time we are letting almost a billion people go hungry. Perhaps even more concerning is every second edible food is lost or wasted—the equivalent of six garbage trucks to be filled.
Here is where we get to the innovation. We are progressing many different types of products to solve this dilemma. I am talking about the things that will help with anti-food waste, indoor gardening, composting, smart city farming. The list goes on and on.
For example, one way to reduce food waste is to grow it ourselves—and there are many ways to do this. Let’s get into a few specific examples right now of how we can reduce food waste today. Here are just a few:
- Indoor garden pods provide a way for city dwellers to cultivate produce inside their own home. Pods can be connected to one another to create a small garden. They can also be nourished in part with built-in LEDs.
- Indoor vertical farms can also create an environment for plants. Plenty is one example, which uses up to 99% less land than conventional farms. Another is the Planty Cube, which many of you might remember from CES last year. This one can also be remotely controlled.
- The Sustainable Family Farm project takes advantage of food waste in a household. The mini indoor garden uses waste to produce fertilizer with the hope people won’t throw food away.
- Apps can also help track food to minimize waste. One example is the Bubble Food Tracker app that can track eating habits, what foods are consumed the most, and what is often left behind.
- Food packaging technology can help keep food fresh while reducing food waste by removing moisture from the air. 2021 CES Innovation Challenge Finalist SAVRpak is one example of this.
Organizations like the IFT (Institute of Food Technologists), of which I served on its Think Tank for a couple of years, is also focusing heavily on helping its members concentrate on sustainability and avoiding food waste. The coming year will be essential to help innovators uncover food choices and new growing experiences.
Here is the bottomline. Rather than just waste food, we can redistribute it. Or we can grow it ourselves. The bottomline is we can tap into technology and innovation to solve this challenge. As I have said, this is the decade of sustainability. We need our products to be more circular and we need to start moving in this direction right now. It is time to move from grey to green. What actions will you take?
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