It all starts with agriculture, where our food comes from—and that's about to change dramatically. By 2050, the world’s population will reach 9.6 billion, with 65% of us living in urban areas. Our land, water, soil and environment are all under siege, and climate change is going to create challenges for us all.
We are seeing a more direct farm-to-consumer connection as communities strive to get closer to nature. And we are seeing more consumers opting for a plant-based diet.
There is a new breed of younger farmers entering the fields. The USDA’s latest Census of Agriculture reports that the number of farmers aged under 35 is increasing—that’s only the second time that’s happened since 1900—and 69% of them have college degrees, far higher than the 40% incidence of the general population. Younger, smarter farmers will bring us into a new era of agriculture.
There has been a huge rise in plant-based everything. Last year, we spoke of the opportunities for meatless burgers such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat; today, Impossible Foods’ burger is sold in Umami Burger and Beyond Meat’s offerings are in meat cases at U.S. at Kroger, Albertsons, Shaw’s, Wegmans, Safeway and Ahold banners.
Vertical indoor farming is more efficient, bringing farms closer to where people live, and reducing expense and environmental impact. In Linkoping, Sweden, a multiuse building will open in 2020 with 16 stories of farms and offices at a 3:1 ratio, with a retail store and even a wholesale operation. This will save 1,100 tons of CO2 emissions and 13 million gallons of water.
Vertical farms offer so many benefits that it's impossible to ignore this as the farming of the future. A 30-story-high farm uses 26 million kilowatts of power, but generates 56 million kilowatts through solar energy and biogas digesters.
But with every new advance, there are those in the old school who fight. One fight is now within the organic ranks on whether hydroponically grown produce should be considered “organic” since there is no soil involved in the growing process, which will probably lead to more consumer confusion rather than empowerment.
Bill Gates has bought 25,000 acres to develop a new “smart city” from the ground up, which I hope could be a new model for a food community. It's the perfect platform for vertical farming, drone and autonomous vehicle deliveries of groceries, and who knows what else?
Get empowered and grow your own food today!