Posts Tagged ‘food’

As announced, here are some notes on the Food and The City expert meeting held at the Amsterdam’s Academy of Architecture.

Our purpose was to collect ideas and data on the impact of food production on the environment and society, and to provide possible strategies to overcome the ongoing food crisis for VOLUME’s issue on Sustainability.

Three different models and ways of thinking the present and the future of agriculture were confronted, but some initial points were shared among our guests:

  • The era of the Green Revolution has come to an end: our agricultural model – as it is based on massive use of fossil fuel, – is today economically inefficient, and noxious for the environment
  • For this reason, the Green Revolution food system is no longer able to feed a growing world population and to deal with poverty and social inequalities
  • New models of food production, processing, retail and consumption are needed to overcome the present crisis
  • All the possible new models must get food production back to the urban environment

Peter Smeets from Wageningen University presented data and future projection on agricultural markets and techniques, showing advanced technologies able to reduce energy and chemical inputs, improving yields and profitability of agriculture enterprises. Food production, especially high added value crops, should be integrated in the metropolitan areas, taking advantage from transporation, cognitive and technological networks. Forms of international horizontal and vertical labour division are welcome in this model, taking advantage of comparative production costs.

On the contrary, artist and designer Debra Solomon criticized this position, claiming that hi-tech developments require a further centralization of the food industry in few, big corporations, threatening the delicate balance of local food systems and expropriating communities from their right to food sovreignity.
For this reason, she advocates the development of light technologies designed around communities, seeking integration with other urban activities.

Architect Jago van Bergen, presented a totally different approach.
A future crisis scenario – the rising sea level and the salinization of agricultural land in the Randstad area – is taken as an opportunity to re-think agricultural production, giving the possibility to design for the first time a true, genuine “Dutch cuisine”, generated by the specificities of the Randstad territory.

Contributions from Debra Solomon, Jago van Bergen and from the Alterra department of Wageningen Universities will be featured in VOLUME 18.


[1] Here Comes The Sun (documentary/VPRO)
[2] Food as A National Security Issue (radio show/NPR)
[3] The Future of Food (magazine/Wired)
[4] Green Guru Gone Wrong: William McDonough (article/Fast Company)

  • [1]
    Here Comes The Sun – Backlight (45min) (watch on youtube) – documentary broadcasted by VPRO on the 20th of October 2008

    About the ‘Solar Revolution’ of which many believe will parallel the rise of the computer industry in growth and impact on society. With in this documentary amongst others Hermann Scheer, the man behind the legislation that made the boom of the solar industry in Germany possible.

  • [2]
    Food as A National Security Issue (40min) – NPR – Radio show broadcasted by NPR on the 20th of October

    In a open letter to the next president, author Michael Pollan writes about the waning health of America’s food systems — and warns that “the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close.”

    The future president’s food policies, says Pollan, will have a large impact on a wide range of issues, including national security, climate change, energy independence and health care.

    Pollan is the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History Of Four Meals and In Defense OF Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

  • [3]
    Wired 16.11 – The Future of Food

    As always Wired tries to be the first to announce the next revolution, In this case the next green revolution: Forty years ago, we defused the Population Bomb with the Green Revolution. Modern fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides boosted crop yield and fed an expanding population. But now the chemical age of agriculture is running out of juice. Production per acre has gone flat, and demand is rising faster than ever. Fortunately, we can reverse those trends. The November Wired presents an atlas that shows where the problems lie–and what to do about them. The good news: our capacity for innovation is as limitless as our appetites.

    Wired - Future of Food

  • [4]
    Green Guru Gone Wrong: William McDonough – Article from Fast Company Issue 130, November 2008

    Green architect William McDonough has been hailed as a water-walking visionary. The truth is far more complicated.

  • Did you know? Cities have always been shaped by food.

    Different systems of food production, storage, distribution, and consumption patterns affected the form of cities in history, from the first cities of Mesopotamia, to the proto-hydroponic terraces of Machu Picchu, from the post-war Western cities to the Southern Megalopolis.

    Our food system is the product of the so-called Green Revolution, begun in the Fourties. But today the Green Revolution shows its limits. Of course, it is criticized by ecologists and anti-globalization activists for the damages it causes to the environment and for its negative consequences for the poor in developing countries. But also, seems that the Green Revolution techniques are no longer profitable for the agriculture businness.

    Therefore, a new, Greener Revolution is about to come.

    Will it be based on new, hi-tech, top-down solutions, or through on the empowerment of local communities with low tech, convivial lifestyles? How will the post- Green Revolution cities look like? How to overcome the ongoing global food crisis? What about biofuels?

    We will discuss these and other topics next Wednesday at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, together with Debra Solomon, Peter Smeets, Steef Buijs, Jago van Bergen, Henk de Zeeuw, Henk van Latestijn and Rutger Groot Wassink.

    The results of the meeting will be featured in this blog, and in Volume 18.

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