Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Fallible Logic of Food System

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Carina Ayden  is one of the most inspiring female founders working in food tech. Not only does she care about the customers, her product is created to set new rules to the entire food production system.  We decided to talk to Carina about her perspective on the current system of food supplies. 

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As for you, what is the biggest challenge in today’s food system? How can it be changed?

Food industry is a very complex and fragmented system. It consists of many parts that are broken and many of these parts operate based on an old principle “business-as-usual”. So when you put all these parts together, you get the system we have today: inefficient, fragile and unjust.

To better understand the brokenness of the food system we need to look at the numbers that reveal illogical dispositions:

  • There are 820 Million people that suffer from hunger while food waste equates to one-third of all food produced globally. 
  • In U.S. 40% of food ends up in trash bins while every 1 in 6 children goes to bed hungry.

These numbers reveal that brokenness fuels injustice.

There is fallible logic in the way we distribute the land and the calories it produces:

  • Only 23% of all arable land is dedicated for human crop production.
  • Most of the land is used to feed the farm animals. This logic doesn’t stack up against the needs of the world: meat and dairy account for only 18% of global calories and 37% of the global protein supply.

Yet land used for crops totals 82% of the global calorie supply and 67% of protein comes from plant-based foods.

All these calories that are lost by feeding crops to animals could feed an extra 3.5 billion people.

Let’s not forget that animals are living beings and are highly resource-intensive that require large amounts of water, land and energy outputs.

Another example of injustice is that the world grows enough calories to feed up to 10 billion people already today but a large portion of them is being diverted and redistributed for livestock.

How do you navigate these challenges?

As a product focused brand, we chose to focus on resilience when it comes to our ingredients and our supply chain. We replace traditional mono-crops with more sustainable plants like pulses. Besides that we inch closer to the model we believe will be the only food model that could sustain the growing population — regenerative, sustainable and circular.

Are there any ways to improve the current situation?

Complex, multi-level problems require systems solutions. We need to forge collaboration between a multitude of sectors: from policy makers, retailers to farmers and businesses to rethink the current model.

I don’t believe in a centralized food system that fuels monopoly and in turn injustice. I think decentralization is the solution that would introduce resilience into the food system, fuel farmers that have been swallowed by conglomerates that dictate the prices. The government would be incentivized to divert the money not to a small group of conglomerates powered by relentless lobbyists, but to a more diverse agricultural sector that operates under the principles of public health and ecological balance.

Do you see technology as a solution to some of these challenges?

I see an amalgamation of humans and technology as a big driver to tacking big challenges. There are a few agricultural startups that use machine learning and robotics to tackle the way we grow our food. Most of them focus on increasing the efficiency and minimization of fertilizer use. This is a big leap in the agricultural sector. Blockchain technology introduced transparency to the supply chain. Cell agriculture, although in its nascency, is the future of cruelty-free clean meat.

In my company we are diverting from using ingredients that are resource intensive to a more drought-tolerant, soil healthy crops.

Do you think the production cycle is better in Europe than in the US? Overall, in your opinion, what country has the best approach to food production?

Sweden, Austria and Finland are the countries that are scoring higher on the Sustainability Index for the way they manage food waste and address nutritional challenges. I don’t think there’s one country today which we can use as a blueprint yet.

How do you see the future of humanity in terms of food production? 

We are intristically connected to this “pale blue dot”, to this beautiful fragile ecological system which allows us to live and to thrive. We are intristically connected to nature. So our Earth bound activities have to become 100% circular and sustainable.


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