As a trend, home gardening is explosive. TerraFarms are a space-efficient choice that use no pesticides and 97% less water. The Ogarden system is completely hassle-free and can grow up to 100 herbs and vegetables a month. However, home gardening isn’t practical everywhere — especially in colder countries. Engineers at the German Aerospace Center are now helping snowed-in communities garden, with an Antarctic farm that can grow veggies below zero.
Called the Eden-ISS, the farm exists inside a climate-controlled shipping container. The greenhouse relies on a technique called vertical farming, in which food grows on trays or hanging modules under LEDs instead of natural sunlight.
The farm is only 135 square feet and can grow vegetables in huge amounts. Amazing, considering the only means of transportation for produce deliveries is by ship or plane. Researchers plan to grow some 30 to 50 different plant species. In short, the new technology is beating the odds.
Over the past 100 years, Arctic temperatures have increased at nearly twice the global average, making it possible to grow crops in once-desolate places like Yellowknife in Canada and Greenland.
On a more impressive note, temperatures in the area can plunge as low as -100 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn’t even know it was humanly possible to exist under such conditions. Lesson learned: never underestimate the power of innovation.
Home gardening systems have been allowing households access to produce without having to make trips to the local market. While they are convenient, they also cost a pretty penny. Because of this, we still rely on large-scale farmers to provide us with some healthy-looking pantries. For ultimate efficiency, farmers are practicing virtual planting to help boost crops.
Digital plants… are part of a new movement in agricultural science called “in silico,” where researchers design highly accurate, computer-simulated crops to help speed up selective breeding, in which plants are chosen and replanted to amplify their desirable traits.
With a constantly skyrocketing population, it seems manual farming techniques are just not going to cut it anymore. Determining the factors that yield the quickest-growing, most drought-resistant, pest-dominating plants? Sitting in front of a computer screen has never made more sense.
The technique begins with scientists collecting data about plant behavior under microscopes and in the field. Next they build statistical models… then create simulations based on those equations, which allows them to see the traits they measured play out on a screen.
Already, the technique has seen success with Brazilian sugarcane fields. In constantly improving the technology, what is normally achieved in a day could soon be achieved in a minute.
Apps donating excess meals to the needy and farms functioning exclusively for food banks are making it a lot easier to tackle waste issues and world hunger. Sustainable soup kitchen La Soupe, run by Cincinnati chef Suzy DeYoung, also wants in on the action.
Last year, the group saved an estimated 125,000 pounds of produce from the landfill, serving 800 quarts a week through 47 participating agencies around [the] city during the school year.
To collect leftovers, volunteers use donation delivery apps and contract with produce suppliers. Of course, soup kitchens can serve whatever meal is most practical to make. But DeYoung believes that soup is still the way to go.
“You can stretch it, meaning if all you have are potatoes and onions you can make a lot by adding water versus just giving somebody a potato,”
Potatoes aside, soup is most viable for households with limited appliances. Public donations and community grants are La Soupe’s primary source of funding. Regular shoppers can also buy meals on a pay-what-you-can basis. La Soupe is just one of many looking to change the world, one bowl at a time.
The British food market is on a roll. Sainsbury recently manufactured a smart label that reminds home cooks when to use up an ingredient. However, the labels are only for ham packets. Kitchen company Smarter hopes its newest device will be a game-changer. FridgeCam is an affordable refrigerator camera that helps users monitor food in real time.
The Smarter FridgeCam takes food “selfies” which are sent to the user’s phone, allowing an instant reminder of what could be on the menu for their next meal. The app also monitors use-by dates, and issues automatic top-up reminders to buy more food products based on remaining quantities.
Why not use any camera? Well, for starters, I wouldn’t recommend shoving a point-and-shoot into your fridge. Plus, it costs less than $150, which is a steal compared to full-on smart refrigerators.
“The supermarkets tell us that the way we shop has fundamentally changed. People are shopping little and often and using different shops. The more we developed and trialled this technology, the more we found that it could not just help reduce food waste but it also encourages people to shop in a smarter and more efficient way,” [said Christian Lane, founder of Smarter]
The quirky gadget could help reduce the over-purchasing of food as well as encourage timely use. It may seem like a superfluous purchase, but at least you won’t be tossing perfectly good veggies.
With a rise in pay-what-you-can restaurants, the food industry is doing what it can do give back to the needy. Some places rely on apps to direct excess food to banks. Others, such as this New York farmer, grow food on farms exclusively for donation to soup kitchens.
The 40-acre farm donates all of its organic produce – and eggs and meat from grass-fed animals – to food pantries and banks throughout the state.
The farm, which is also praised for its smart architecture, hopes to ensure food security.
Out of the 40 acres, 25 are used for animal pasture, and two are dedicated to vegetable production. The farm is currently in its fifth season and estimates they’ve been able to donate over 36,000 healthy, organic meals – emphasizing quality of food as much as quantity.
The farm has donated more than 10 tons of meat across the state, an impressive and heartwarming feat. Perhaps what the world needs is not more food but more industries willing to share produce with communities that need it most.