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Manifesto for the future of food production

Foundational thoughts about feeding ourselves in the coming decades

A

Resilience vs. Efficiency

The future of sustainable agriculture lies in shaking the notion that efficiency will solve all our food security problems. Scaling up production is crucial, but it must be done so in ways that enable humanity to face the uncertainties of our future.

Working with Nature (vs. Controlling Nature)

Practices such as intensive monocultures produce quantity, but do not respect natural environments and compromise our ability to grow in the future. By attempting to exert full control over nature, we are attempting to tame a wild beast. In return, constrained and exploited, nature can only give us a modest fraction of its potential. Gaining a better understanding of microorganisms, soil quality, companion cropping, etc. is essential in order to create a more responsible status quo.

Decentralised Food Production Network (vs. Monopolies)

Decentralised networks are by definition more resilient than centralised ones due to their higher flexibility and adaptive capacity. Networks can more easily de-intensify/decouple (diversify resources) and dynamically reorganise relative to more rigid monopolies.

Progressive Agricultural Practices (vs. Static Agricultural Practices)

Conventional agricultural practices should have the ability to adapt in an ad-hoc manner in order to employ the most adequate methods.

Emphasising Local and Seasonal Production (vs. Encouraging Global Imports)

We should strive for a healthy balance between global and local food production instead of producing where cheapest and selling where most profitable.

Optimism (vs. Fatalism)

We must combat the idea that the status quo is unshakeable and that we are working on the only track given to us. We cannot afford to take a fatalistic stance on our future, and have the duty to fight for solutions here and now in order to create new realities.

B

Accessibility vs. Exclusivity

Open Information (vs. Siloed Knowledge)

Knowledge and information in agriculture is vast, and hard to navigate, this is looking at what is freely available. We need to make information open both through clearing the paths to find the information and by representing information in a clear actionable way.

Self-Actualisation Farming (vs. Low-Status Farming)

Providing food is one of the most important tasks of civilisation, let’s appreciate it as that. It is important to improve the reputation and social status of farmers to make the occupation more attractive and to make people respect their food.

Technology as a Tool (vs. Technology as a Solution)

Science and technology should be applied to support natural processes rather than controlling or replacing them. These should support the production of diverse crops and a creative approach in the preparation of food. We should use criteria like flavour to guide scientific research in the field of agriculture.

C

Quality vs. Quantity

Food for Pleasure (vs. Food for Satiation)

Beyond simply fueling our bodies, food must fuel our minds. Food should be delicious and healthy, and it should awaken the imagination (as futurist Marinetti argues). We should encourage experimentation with imaginative and unexpected ingredients, preparation methods and combinations of flavours.

Everything is Food (vs. Reduction and Homogenisation of Produce)

Despite being neglected relative to optimised industrial crops, indigenous orphan crops have the power to contribute to resilient agriculture and food security in both the developing and developed world. Produce and ingredient archetypes need to be dismantled in order encourage more tolerance and diversity (e.g. insects, wholegrain bread, vegetarian meals, …).

Food for Nutrition (vs. Fast Food, Food for Convenience)

Our dietary habits have an enormous effect on our health, as seen with diseases of affluence such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, allergies, cancers… Industrialised food production and food processing encourages a consistent decrease in quality. Eating nutritionally balanced and healthy diets should be a priority for us all.

Developed in collaboration with in collaboration with Edward Brial and Gabriel Brückner as part of Spring.
2016 | Royal College of Art