Guest Blog from Katerva: Embracing the challenge of feeding the world
Feeding 9 Billion People will challenge us to embrace agricultural practices that can produce enough food without creating too much harm for the planet. The challenges associated with producing a high enough quantity of quality food is outlined in the second Sustainable Development Goal put forth by the United Nations: Zero Hunger.
So it is no surprise that one of Katerva’s 10 awards categories focuses exclusively on Food. Our aim is to accelerate advances in food security, production, and more sustainable resource use in the agricultural sector. A growing human population is placing increasing demands on the agriculture system, which in turn places increased strain on the environment. Producing food sustainably will be essential to maintaining global stability and feeding a population estimated to reach 9.7 Billion by 2050.
Advancements in resource use, such as reducing water or fertilizer use can help limit the environmental impact of food production. But innovations will be required across the food system in order to address issues at all stages, from production, distribution, consumption to waste.
The wonderful thing is, once you start looking you can find such projects everywhere: from projects that help reduce plastic waste associated with food - such as an edible spoon or edible packaging, approaches to reduce waste in kitchens - such as winner of Katerva’s Beharioral Change category 2018, Winnow, to making sure less food is being thrown away because it is not ‘pretty’ enough such as 2018 runner-up Full Harvest Technologies. Previous Katerva winners in the Food category have addressed issues from crop growth to food storage to the development of consumer products to address the many unsustainable facets of the food system.
There are many innovators working to improve the sustainability of the food system. These innovations range from changes in individual dietary choices, to how food is produced and distributed. While the type and motivation behind these innovations vary, increased integration of sustainable practices in food can only bring positive change throughout the system. Latest innovations and trends that are currently reshaping the food industry are showcased in a recent Forbes article. For a global plan for feeding ourselves sustainably read “Nourished Planet”, a book edited by Food Tank founder Dannielle Nierenberg - Food Tank was part of our 2013 Awards Process.
This year’s Food Category and Grand Prize winner Protix, is tackling the challenge head-on by incorporating an underutilized resource into the food system in order to improve access to sustainable protein sources: insects. Insects offer an abundant and sustainable high-protein food source for livestock that can significantly reduce the environmental impact of animal agriculture.
Protix notes that “Insects have the amazing ability to turn low-grade food waste into valuable high-end proteins and fats…have a low ecological footprint and are the perfect sustainable alternative to regular protein sources” The limited resources required to raise insects compared to other protein sources as well as their ability to efficiently convert food waste into usable energy makes them a perfect choice for strengthening circular production in the food industry. Protix has used this approach to develop products for soil enhancement, and animal as well as human consumption.
There are many other changes underway aimed at making food more sustainable. Yet despite progress on reducing hunger worldwide, increased food demand from population growth and decreased production has led to rising hunger levels. The human cost of failing to address this disparity is far too large to ignore and will require a rethinking of how we view and produce food.
Much work remains to be done!
If you are aware of some exciting sustainable disruptive innovations in the field of food security, let us know, so we can help accelerate and scale them, for the benefit of all of us.
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