Feature Article: Return to an Idyllic Pastoral Food System?

Why relying on only locally grown food would not work.

Keanu Taylor – Gilded Tomato Farm

An idyllic pastoral food system refers to relying on only locally grown food, without any importation of any produce. It is trendy to believe that “if everyone just ate locally” the world would be a better place. This belief led to the misinformation regarding GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and any form of Food Science. This article will explain what food science actually is and the importance of food science and GMOs when it comes to feeding billions of people.

Food Science is simply the study of food. What a Food Scientist (or Food Technologist) does is apply what they know about food to make food safe, distributable, and capable of getting in the bodies of billions of people across the world. GMOs are foods that have been genetically altered, not found in nature. A plant is genetically modified to reduce insect contamination, produce a higher yield, and create heat, cold, or drought tolerant crops. For over millions of years, humans have applied their knowledge of food in order to process and preserve foods to survive. For example papaya, which would have been extinct today, utilized GMOs to prevent a virus (PRSV) which restricted the crop from growing.

During the 1940s – 1950s, before the mission to help feed the world (otherwise known as the Green Revolution), countries like Mexico and parts of the United States were struggling for food supply. Norman Borlaug, and agronomist, developed a disease resistance high-yield varieties of wheat which turned Mexico from a starving country to being of the highest exporter of wheat in the world. With the new technology of the Green Revolution, in less than ten years, food availability drastically increased across the world.

Currently, with food technology, obtaining food in many countries is ridiculously easy. Our biggest problem regarding food, today, is overeating and deciding whether we are in the mood for a certain cuisine over another. We do not fear going a day without having obtainable food. If we crave an apple, we can have an apple within minutes. The local food movement would require a large amount of labor from every individual to obtain food, practically making everyone farmers. Our biggest problem would not be overeating and conflicting food preferences. Instead, our biggest problem would be under-eating and providing enough labor so food can be supplied to for days to come.

If the world today ran solely on the idyllic pastoral food system, large and minor issues would never be solved. Food items would only be seasonal while the demand for produce out of season will remain the same. Countries will wither in desertification. Additionally, with a growing population that’s expected to reach nine billion by 2050, billions of people may be deprived of food. Locally grown food has it’s benefits and is an important part of the food system. However when considering the world to feed, relying solely on locally grown food would only set us backward.

*Too read the IFT Review, click here or go to: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2010.00127.x/ful

Briney, A. (2015, April 30). All You Wanted to Know About the Green Revolution.
Retrieved January 28, 2018, from http://geography.about.com/od/globalproblemsandissues/a/greenrevolution.htm
Edinger , Robert.
Floros, J. D., Newsome, R., Fisher, W., et al. (2010), Feeding the World Today and
Tomorrow: The Importance of Food Science and Technology. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 9: 572–599. doi:10.1111/j.1541-4337.2010.00127.x
Manshardt, R. (2013). GMO Case Study [PDF]. Cornell: Alliance for science.
Sanjaya Rajaram. (2011) Norman Borlaug: The Man I Worked With and Knew. Annual
Review of Phytopathology 49:1, pages 17-30.


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