Skyscraper Farms, Lab-grown Meat & Soylent — Meeting the needs of the 21st Century
Meeting the basic needs of humanity is increasingly brought into question as we begin to resemble a cancer of the living organism we inhabit. As mass extinction continues to become an omnipotent reality, it’s apparent that more humans equals more problems. To fix this, we have to approach them in the same way farmers do: with resiliency. Farmers try to nurture their crops and hope for the right season. Although, even the predictability of spring, summer and fall’s outcome can be misleading. Nature has a way of leading things in the exact opposite direction than they seem to be headed. And it is those who’ve treaded, but still embark that truly encounter the rewards. For if farmers were to give up after an adverse season, there’d be no food next year. There’d be no continuity of supply for society. There’d be no method of feeding the hungry. No solution to ease the growing population and its rising demands.
So, with exponential gain in human births this century, how do we combat such problems? One possible solution is to build “green skyscrapers” for the sole purpose of farming, where we are able to control the environment and have multiple levels of plant growth. This could be done by utilizing an array of mirrors to redirect sunlight to every floor, while supplementing with multi-spectral, energy-efficient LED’s. With advanced humidity control and water-recycling techniques, we’d contribute towards the global conservation of water and open up valuable land to reforestation — all through subjugating the unpredictability of nature. This ensures the utmost quality and care goes into producing local, high-quality food, with the added benefit of honing the technology needed for interplanetary colonization.
The only initial disadvantage would be construction costs. However, this would easily be offset through increased output and guaranteed quality due to these ecosystems being impervious to weather. Huge savings would also be incurred when factoring in the current system of transport and the exorbitant costs associated (such as flying tropical fruits to unsuitable climates). One could imagine how these large scale, indoor farms could operate. Just like automated assembly lines streamline car production, smart systems could control water, light and humidity. With robotic arms connected to railings on the ceiling, they could traverse the floor and raise/lower as needed to care for each plant (such as removing nutrient-deficient leaves that take energy away from plant growth). Come harvest time, robotic arms tailored to the task could identify and pick the perfect crop, and transfer it to a station that washes/preps the produce for consumption. The conservation of space and ability to have large-scale, indoor farms at the heart of every city could bring wonders to the future of food production.
Lab Grown Meat
Around the world, particularly in the United States and China, factory-farms have become a rampant problem disguised as a way to address the growing meat demand. Even without factoring in the ethical questions surrounding the treatment of these animals, it leads to a myriad of problems that plague the present and the future across a wide range of topics.
In terms of health, these animals are often kept in cages their entire lives that barely accommodate the size of their body, and as such, living in their own waste breeds disease. To keep them alive, they’re given antibiotics (which create viruses increasingly resilient to them). The only logical path this leads to is a superbug immune to antibiotics that will kill people, and potentially lead to a mass epidemic with unknown consequences.
To add insult to injury, these animals are also given hormones (to increase their size and heighten profits). These hormones are then ingested into the human body along with the meat, even though all signs point to negative health implications. Watching a drone fly over a factory farm cesspool below, you start to realize that the case for lab grown meat becomes more appealing by the second. Pair this with the revelation that knowing the origins of what you eat shouldn’t make you feel sick to your stomach, and you’ll start asking how much longer you have to wait.
Luckily, a lot of advancements have been made in the quality and cost of producing lab grown meat. It now only costs $11.26 per burger (from about $325,000 a couple years ago)! And it’ll only get cheaper from there. In Knowing that you could ingest the same (if not, better) tasting meat without hormones, chemicals, super-bugs, or animal suffering, it becomes clear that this is the way of the future. Considering the potential profits to be made in this area, there’s also ample drive for companies to accelerate advancement.
Soylent is an innovative meal-replacement formula that helps meet healthy eating expectations by ensuring you get the essential nutrients often left out of your diet. Soylent can ensure that even if your eating isn't perfect, you can drink a meal in a bottle that gives your body what it needs to live long and prosper. Considering many people will occasionally or consistently skip a meal like breakfast (myself being one of them), such a product can allow for optimal replenishment of health-boosting supplements that often go unconsumed, even when we do eat healthy.
The stakes posed by Soylent are more than just a a single drink changing how we make up for lost meals. I believe it’s indicative of the innovative future of food that lays before us. Reminiscent of the scene in ‘Back to the Future,’ when Marty’s mom puts in a nano-size pizza and it transforms into a life sized one, the way we view and consume food will ultimately change. While it may not be in the same way ‘Back to the Future’ poses, there is quite a bit of potential that lays in applying technology to the sustenance that drives our mind and energizes our body. Because what we eat impacts our performance in all aspects, it’s possible that we could start eating the perfect cocktail for the activity at hand, be it sports or intense mental focus. Such ‘designer food’ could come as a pre-packaged medley of ingredients with custom taste and texture profiles created to suite the preferred meal experience. Whether or not this is similar to the food bars in the tv show ‘FireFly,’ or the elvish “lambas bread” in ‘Lord of the Rings,’ it’s very likely that when it comes to the future of food, fantasy will become reality.
By combining the above three methods of meeting 21st century food demand in a sustainable fashion, we can solve some of the biggest challenges we’ve faced thus far. It is in innovative approaches to the most impossible of problems that we have come to mould ourselves into formidable and adaptive, creative beings with the propensity to survival. It is in continuing along this path that we will come to achieve greatness.