problems of food systems

The inherent problems of our global food systems is essentially the way food is produced these days as compared to how food was being produced earlier.

Transportation of food is a major factor effecting the ecological process of food production. Earlier, cities were not as large as they are now and hence the agricultural lands were located near the cities. There was not much loss in energy due to transportation of food.

This is not the case now as farmlands are concentrated in patches far away from the city and are very centralised. Due to globalization, cost of transporting food has gone up highly as food has to be refrigerated and then flown or shipped to places across the globe.

This has increased the dependency on fossil fuels many folds.

Agriculture also uses lots of fertilisers and herbicides which has had an adverse effect on ecology.  The amount of nutrients that can be used up by the crops from the fertilizers is miniscule in comparison to what is provided to them. These fertilisers are then washed away to streams and rivers contaminating them. These adversely affects the living organisms in the water bodies. It also causes eutrophication which cuts off oxygen supply and prohibits the survival of species in the water body.

Due to irrigation, lot of top soil is also washed away, faster than the process in which it can be replenished. This causes soil erosion and renders farmlands unproductive after a certain time. Irrigation also causes salinization of soil.

Production and use of fertilizers releases methane and nitrous oxides in the soil which increase global warming.

The possible solutions to this problem would have to be combined effort at market and public policy level.  There has to be decentralization of production areas throughout the city. People should be encouraged to grow their own produce by having rooftop, backyard or kitchen gardens. Urban farms should be introduced in townships where people can engage in community farming. There are various examples of successful roof top urban farming in India and European countries. People need to be aware of methods to successfully grow crops in an urban setting.

There should be farmlands located around the city in patches to avoid transportation costs and local grown produce should be encouraged.

With the amount of rooftop space available over franchises and grocery stores, urban farming over rooftops can be started as a successful business where consumers can hand pick their produce from the rooftop of the franchise or grocery store and pay a far lesser price for them. This would also help create more job opportunities and help beautify the city and create more hangout spaces which are not restricted to ground level.

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