“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates.
This quote by Greek physician Hippocrates has genuinely stood the test of time and aged particularly well. When many consumers are waking to the reality of food production, the source of our food and how that food is produced, packaged, transported, and ultimately consumed has given rise to massive movements that mean to educate consumers and change our behavior.
Holistically speaking, our means of food production in the West is changing fast. There are ever-increasing numbers of consumers who are more aware and demanding more from farmers, markets, and suppliers.
So let’s look at how the food we eat and that ultimately fuels our bodies and minds is part of an industry that is changing rapidly and in exciting ways.
ORGANIC SOLUTIONS FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Like all other major industries, food production has also seen significant advances in planting, growing, farming, and harvesting our food. We’ve long since abandoned using the worst chemical fertilizers and insecticides, but their use is not over yet.
Many farms in the developing world and even still in the West use terrible chemicals to protect crops and increase yields.
Yet, there are dozens of available organic alternatives to chemical solutions that can be used and whose popularity is merciful, growing. This list includes:
- Copper and its various forms include copper hydroxide, copper sulfate, copper oxychloride, and copper oxideBoric acid.
- Bacillus thuringiensis.
- Bacillus subtilis.
- Beauveria bassiana.
- Corn gluten.
- Gibberellic acid.
- Cydia pomonella granulosis.
- Hydrogen peroxide.
- Lime sulfur and calcium polysulphide.
- Horticultural vinegar.
- Elemental bicarbonates and sulfur.
- Kaolin clay…and
- Beer, yes…beer.
The very nature that we farm to sustain ourselves provides solutions to keep that self-same process pure and organic.
TECHNOLOGY IN FOOD PRODUCTION
Food systems are incredibly complex and specific to certain regions around the world. This is based on natural ecosystems and available labor, technology, and means of distribution.
So now, let’s look at some of the top technological advances in food production that are changing the agricultural industry around the world.
BEES AND DRONES
One of the most significant and most dangerous elements of climate change that scientists are warning about is the impact that rising global temperatures will have on food production. If this continues, then many areas worldwide won’t be able to produce food either at the rate that their populations require or, in some cases, not at all. Naturally, this will directly impact the cost of food and will ultimately lead to civil issues too.
So now, farmers are using drones in agriculture to supplement the work of our busy bee population. Everyone knows that if the bee population dies out, then the natural means of pollination are removed, resulting in disaster. But drones are now being used to work as “assistants” to our bee workers to turn the tide.
THE URBAN AGRICULTURAL ENVIRONMENT AND VERTICAL FARMING
Something of a revolution is taking place in urban spaces all over the world. Urban farming usually takes on a smaller (obviously) space than massive commercial farms, but – the principle of “safety in numbers” is at work here. You see, when one adds up the cumulative space atop skyscrapers, the sides of tall buildings and apartment blocks, public squares and spaces, one could be truly surprised at how much food can be produced in existing city space.
It’s not likely that vertical farming will take over traditional agriculture as we know it, but it can make a difference in efficiency and productive farming methods. If you don’t know what vertical farming is, take a look at this video here.
HOW WE GET OUR FOOD TO OUR TABLES
So we’ve looked at different ways the agricultural industry is changing and the potentially exciting results that will bring. Still, if we’re going to experience real change all around, we also need to change how our food is delivered.
As if we needed any more reminding, Covid-19 has changed the face of the planet forever. Because not only has our way of life changed in obvious ways, but the global pandemic has also changed how our supply industry works. This is a stark reality that many of us are still not entirely comfortable with and probably won’t be for some time, but make no mistake – you’re going to have to get on board and get on board quickly.
Because the fact is this, it’s not just our obvious way of life that’s changed; it’s also the functions of our daily lives that are essential but that we don’t often give too much thought about. Enter: supply chain logistics. How many times have you and your friends enjoyed a spirited conversation about logistics? Yeah, we didn’t think so, but thanks to the pandemic and the rise in online shopping, the massive uptake of in-home delivery services, and the sad closure of hundreds of restaurants and other food-based establishments, the entire industry has had to relook at how it does its business.
But, at least one area where the change that has been forced may very well be better than what we had before. Because now producers and suppliers alike have to focus on freshness, quality, and organic production to satisfy an ever more savvy consumer base.
This article speaks of exciting uses for augmented reality technology and its implications; it’s well worth a read if you fancy a more technical summation of the topic.
FOOD AS MEDICINE
To the quote that started this post, then, at some point in our evolution of humanity, we’ve forgotten that our ancestors used food to fuel their bodies to work, to survive (ok, that’s an obvious point, but true) but also to heal themselves. They didn’t have the benefit of a local CVS or Walgreens; they had only what they had around them.
Now, a growing movement is turning us back to understanding the healing qualities of food and specifically certain herbs and greens that can do all sorts of beautiful things for our bodies. We have herbs to support immune health, fruit, and vegetables to aid digestive issues and relieve sunburn (thank you, Aloe).
But what about disease prevention and treatment? Can our food be used for that?
The complexities surrounding the risk of disease to individuals are complex because they speak to individual experiences, genetics, lifestyle, and diet. But it is essential to say here that not all diseases can be prevented or treated by diet alone, and you should always empower yourself with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions should you be suffering from an ongoing illness, and of course, always follow the advice of your doctor.
Look, food cannot ever compensate for poor lifestyle choices, so let’s get that straight, but a healthy and robust lifestyle can start with a good diet. A diet that lacks balance and nourishment will compromise your immune system and make you more prone to illness and disease. In contrast, a diet rich in fiber, roughage, iron, vitamins, minerals, etc., will form the basis of a robust immune system that is way more efficient at fighting off colds, flu, and disease.
Let’s have a look at some foods that are particularly good for us.
BERRIES: Study after study has shown that plant compounds and nutrients found in berries combat disease, and diets rich in berries may protect against chronic conditions and even certain cancers.
CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES: Vegetables like Broccoli and Kale contain a large amount of antioxidants, and a high intake of these vegetables could decrease your risk of heart disease and help promote longevity and “happy heart health.”
FATTY FISH: Fish like salmon, sardines, and other fish with a high-fat content help to fight inflammation due to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids. These also protect against heart disease.
MUSHROOMS: The hippies were right (and I was a hippie!). It turns out that these fun-guys (see what we did there), contain compounds that include maitake and reishi, which have been shown to boost your immune system, heart, and brain.
The list continues and includes nuts, fruits, vegetables, types of wheat, and fibrous foods all have unique qualities on our bodies functions and can aid our mental health.
YOUR GUT IS YOUR SECOND BRAIN
Did you know this? This was taken from the Cleveland Clinic website:
“Because the enteric nervous system relies on the same type of neurons and neurotransmitters that are found in the central nervous system, some medical experts call it our “second brain.” The “second brain” in our gut, in communication with the brain in our head, plays a key role in certain diseases in our bodies and in our overall mental health.”
So eating a diet of gut-healthy and functional foods doesn’t just take care of your body, but it takes outstanding care of your mind, your brain, and your mental health state too.
Nutritionally speaking, there is no such thing as an actual “superfood,” it’s a term that was coined to introduce a collection of types of food that do marvelous things for you, and there are some of these foods that you really need to be eating.
When all is said and done, the responsibility towards our family’s healthcare is on par with our commitment towards our planet – we can’t have either without the other. So isn’t it time that you joined the new food revolution? We hope we’ve given you some food for thought.