WIRED has an interesting article today about the potential networking of small farm to the global food supply chain.
Although the food industry has evolved to a degree over the millenia, bottom line, farmers still grow food, and vehicles of some sort (horse and wagons, trucks, etc.) bring them to market. However, as so many other industries are being transformed by the Internet, while others are being forced into extinction because of it, what will be the transformational future of food? Will anything truly, fundamentally change, as is suggested in the article? Perhaps some methods of distribution may evolve, but I believe there is even a more pronounced possibility looming out there.
Thanks to the Internet, people have become entrepreneurs like never before. One can run their own business from start to finish almost autonomously. You no longer really need a telephone company for your personal communications needs. Just go VoIP. So, what if you could go “back to the future” by generating your own food supply? Humans used to do this exclusively in eons past. Why could we not become completely self-sufficient with our own food supply with the tools that exist today?
We could personally ensure three of the key aspects of food: 1) Safety from food borne illness, 2) Availability, protection from hunger, or waste from over supply, and 3) Quality, health and nutrition content. What would it take for us to do this? Could we have a huge variety of ingredients, raw materials that is, at hand to generate an endless array of food choices at the home?
I don’t think we’re far off from this world. We could make supermarkets obsolete. Maybe. And that’s coming from an ex-supermarket manager. Why should we be at risk of what other people are doing with our food before it gets to us? A typical carrot in Iowa travels 1600 miles before it gets to the grocery store. Who knows what it’s been through to get there? 75 million Americans are sickened each year with food borne illness. 50% of all food in the world is wasted, but a billion or more go hungry. Even if we have access to food, how healthy and nutritious is it? Could we make it better on our own?
Supermarkets have looked the same on the inside for 100 years. Aisles of cans and meat and produce departments. Nothing new, really. It’s time for a revolution.