In a time of unregulated, convenience-driven food production, many people are beginning to take a second look at what’s on their plate and how it got there. Whether it’s for environmental, ethical or health reasons, the food industry is not the same as it was ten years ago. Pomtoms are becoming a thing of the past, family farms are flourishing and organic produce is now the norm. The term ‘foodies’ has become commonplace, and food technology has moved from traditional to unorthodox.
This article will take a critical look at the changes that have occurred in food production over the past decade, and set out to determine whether this emerging culture is really what it’s cracked up to be. In this article I will try to answer these questions while considering trends in food technology over time.
Food is still our most basic human need after shelter, and it’s interesting to note that every other group of humans in the world has some form of food culture. This lifestyle is often dictated by the climate, geography and social structure of a particular society, and it changes accordingly over time. We can see this principle at work today as globalization results in increased food trade.
Global interdependence increases the likelihood of the spread of food-borne illnesses by introducing harmful pathogens into new environments, which can lead to pandemics. At the same time, cross cultural communication may spark interest in new types of food or methods for their cultivation because people’s nutritional needs aren’t always met by local foods.
1. The State of Food Innovation in the U.S.A.
Currently, the United States is one of the world’s leading producers and suppliers of food to both domestic and international markets. It is home to some of the largest agribusiness companies on earth, such as Cargill and ADM, which are largely responsible for this status. The U.S. produces roughly half of the world’s soybean exports and is ranked second in corn exports.
2. Major Food Trends in the U.S. Over Time
Convenience and technology are two major factors that have influenced food production and consumption over time. The invention of canning has led to reduced food waste by helping to keep products fresh for long periods of time, and freezing has improved storage capacities in both developed and developing countries.
In addition, innovations in the transportation sectors such as railroads, cars, airplanes and even trucks have made shipping large amounts of perishable goods more practical. However, these improvements have often come at a cost; environmental issues such as air pollution from shipping containers have resulted from an increase in transportation technology (Alderman).
3. Are We Really Less Hungry?
One of the most well-known food trends in recent decades has been the increase in the worldwide population; it has almost doubled since 1970 to reach seven billion people by 2011. In terms of food supply, there have been similar numbers with an increase in production of rice, wheat and maize (FAO).
Alongside this growth, the world’s ability to feed itself has failed to keep up; many countries have been unable to meet agricultural demand with their harvests and are producing more food waste than they can actually use (FAO). This problem is most apparent in less developed nations such as India and China where over 60% of all grain is lost during agricultural production (UN).
4. How Can We Maximize Food Production in the Future? 3 Options
According to the latest statistics, arable land is becoming a much scarce resource. The amount of unused land that could be used for farming is declining as urbanization increases across the globe; this will soon result in a decrease in agricultural production (Ifad).
However, food waste is also on the rise due to increasing consumption and over purchasing; one study found that over 1/3 of all food produced worldwide gets wasted through spoilage or over-consumption (UN). The implications of these trends are clear: we need to find ways to produce more food with less waste.
5. Can Bioengineering Solve Our Food Shortage?
The use of modern technology to improve food production and save resources has been a major focus of the scientific community in recent years. One major breakthrough that has emerged from this sector is the development of genetically modified organisms or GMOs, which allow scientists to splice genes from animals, plants and bacteria into other organisms.
The first notable GMO was a tomato that was created by inserting fish genes into its DNA as a way to make it freeze-resistant (Gardner). The resulting fruit looked and tasted like an ordinary tomato, but it had a much longer shelf life with no threat of freezing.