The Fate of Food by Amanda Little [Book Summary – Review]

During the words “climate change” is heard, we are going to tend to create destructive events such as melting polar glaciers and rising ocean levels. But most of us feel the impacts of climate change much closer to our home: with the food source. As unforeseen weather conditions become more common, crops in the world will be affected due to this situation. To summarize, we will be able to see the lack of everything from fruits and vegetables to coffee and significantly higher prices for the limited materials available.

Therewithal, it is expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050 as the world population continues to grow. Much of this growth will be concentrated in regions such as Africa and China. In such areas, due to the dilemma of sustainable and fair food production, it has already been hit homes. How can a narrow supply fall in step with the growing demand?

In this case, we are going to investigate issues that force farmers and scientists to think again about what we eat and how we prepare it. We will also see some of the possible solutions that will ensure the food we eat tomorrow. Although the world is shifting quickly, we can develop with it and we must make it real.

Buy this book from Amazon

Chapter 1 – Thanks to modern farming techniques, an important contribution is made to our current ecological crisis.

There is no doubt that agriculture is more productive than ever before in human history. Even with the help of modern machines, advanced pesticides, and the seeds we use, the amount of food that humanity can grow is significantly raised.

Still, due to the improved productivity, it has been brought at a cost.

Since the time that the first seed was sown by humans, every agricultural innovation has the result of a general-purpose: to produce bigger, more reliable crops with less effort.

Over the decades, farming has evolved from self-sufficiency – developing only to meet the urgent need – into a profit-oriented industrial giant. This long history of innovation, it resulted in the Green Revolution in the years after World War II. New pesticides, irrigation techniques, and hybrid seeds came together to enhance the global food supply by 200 percent.

It was the Green Revolution heralded for a long time as a turning point for humanity. However, in all its successes, the Green Revolution had some unwanted results.

Due to excessive fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, beneficial, productive insects such as aquatic life, upper soil and bees have also been harmed. Meanwhile, insects that damaged crops became resistant to existing pesticides. By farmers, for fighting with them, it is forced on with the use of stronger chemicals. Then there is climate change. The carbon footprint of industrial agriculture is gigantic. Food production accounts for one-fifth of the total annual greenhouse gas emissions and is higher than any other additives.

However, perhaps, his failure to solve the problem of food distribution is the Green Revolution’s biggest failure. Although food is now produced on a large scale, still over 800 million people are malnourished. Supply chains remain inefficient, and about a third of the food produced worldwide is wasted.

Due to the disadvantages of the Green Revolution, some sustainable food advocates argue that we must dismantle the entire structure and go back to the basics. We are asked to reject chemicals and genetic modification against simpler farming practices. Although this theory seems to be idyllic, it is not completely possible. Thanks to technology, costs associated with agriculture have been significantly reduced, resulting in much more affordable food. If the use of technology was stopped, more expensive food would be faced. And those who would lose would be the poorest communities.

In a forward-looking way, a combination of efforts is wanted, with technology and conventional working together to feed a larger planet.

Chapter 2 – Due to the rise in extreme weather, the fruit industry is being reduced.

Who doesn’t love delicious fruits? Still, how many of us know how difficult it is to develop?

One of the most defenseless crops against excessive weather conditions is fruit. Fruits are remarkably sensitive to temperature change. As a result, a very good way, that measured the impacts of climate change, is fruits. The condition of the climate can be assessed by monitoring what is happening to their crops. Moreover, this is not good.

In 2012, the leading cherry producer and third-largest apple producer in the state of Michigan chased an unseasonably warm winter followed by a frozen crop in April. A half a billion dollars loss for the fruit industry is a consequence.

More than a century of collecting data has been collected by researchers at Michigan State University, and it has been discovered that this is a disturbing trend. Before 1940, spring frosts have been observed less than ten per year. But since then, this number has risen to almost 20. Combining increased freezing with general warming is what makes it particularly bad for fruit crops.

It requires a delicate balance for the development of fruits such as cherries, apples, and peaches. An exact amount of cold air to bloom and bear fruit in the spring is needed.

In Michigan, the bitter cold for a long time is used in fruit trees. To overcome, when the temperatures are just above freezing, trees, what are called cooling units for winter survival, are accumulated. Due to higher temperatures, it means that trees form more cooling units. The result is called “supercooled” trees that bloom very early. In 2016, peach trees in New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island bloomed a month earlier than planned. Unluckily, they were at risk because this spring freezing hit them. In 2016, crops in all three states lost 100 percent as cold temperatures returned in mid-February.

It is not only the northern states where there are fruit crops. Rich and fertile California farmland were once affected by a devastating drought affecting strawberries, grapes, almonds, and countless other crops. The same story is valid all over the world.

In turn, farmers are turning to an extreme, hopefully, workarounds to aid. With freezing fans, it helps to reduce the warm air to the tree level when the temperature drops. Some orchards even use helicopters to fly overhead to push down warm air. Meanwhile, gardeners are working to grow fresh trees that can withstand these new conditions.

Chapter 3 – The thing that plays a key role in ensuring aridness relief is technological advances.

The heart, that is the lifeblood of the food industry, is water. Unless it is not found, no crops can grow and no animals can be grown. Still, water resources are drying out. Due to extreme aridness, almost every continent is affected. So, what are able we to do?

A possible answer is to generate genetically modified organisms or GMOs. Now most of us – especially in the west – see GMOs with suspicion. However, this negative manner is not mandatory. According to scientific organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization, it was given as a result that GMOs are not a threat to human health. And in many parts of the world, the advantages turn to scale the perceived risks.

Let’s take Kenya, for instance. Like many African countries, Kenya is struggling with food insecurity. In 2012, following intensive discussions, by the Kenyan government, the use of GMO products was banned. However, in part, it revises this position thanks to successful research on genetically modified maize. The seeds are designed to be resistant to both pests and aridness.

So far, the laboratory has been successful in growing pest-resistant plants, a larger harvest has been given and toxic pesticides have been reduced. Solving the drought tolerance problem is a much more difficult task to crack, and a lot of work, to be done, is still found in there. Still, there were encouraging marks and aridness resistance emerged as the next frontier for bioengineers.

However, designing new crops that can survive with minimal water is only half the battle. Another challenge is the creation of new areas of fertile farmland through irrigation. The country, that emerged as the leader in this field, is Israel. Despite being a drouthy desert country, Israel has become 95 percent agricultural self-sufficient thanks to high-tech irrigation techniques that include desalination and even recycling wastewater.

As water is very valuable, we cannot spend a single drop. That is why Israel invests in software that monitors every aspect of the water network. Designed to catch small leaks in pipes before they explode, only 10 percent of water supply to defective pipes is lost in the country. The USA loses more than 30 percent of its water each year, so compare these two.

Although Israel’s system is an impressive success, it is also extremely expensive. While cities around the world have been accepted to meet this, its high price describes we still need to discover new ways to manufacture more food with less water.

Chapter 4 – It is closed farming, new encouraging growth in agriculture.

While the world population is rising, the amount of existing agricultural land is diminishing. This is particularly valid in countries such as China. Although its large size, China has a shortage of arable land to feed over a billion inhabitants.

So, what are able we to do? How can we discover more land to grow plants?

With the development of GMOs, while concentrating on changing the plant to develop in a new environment, indoor farming is all about changing the environment according to the requirements of the facility. Indoor farming is nothing new – greenhouses are based on the Romans – but today indoor farming is more advanced. It ranges from simple, low-tech structures to high-tech, climate-controlled vertical farms that do not differ from the oldest greenhouses.

It is indoor agriculture found all over the world. The most popular land is in the Netherlands, which is not suitable for farming. It is also being developed at the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan, where the 2011 crash led to the development of new greenhouses.

The growing demand for locally sourced organic foods has also increased the popularity of indoor farming. Vertical farms such as New Jersey-based AeroFarms do not contain pesticides and use much less water and fertilizer than outdoor farms. Another state-of-the-art aeroponic eliminates the need for soil, as the plant roots freely swing in the air and feed on a nutrient-filled fog.

Despite all its advantages, indoor farming still has several magnificent drawbacks. Artificial light needed for beginners greatly raises energy consumption. Other greenhouses, such as those drawing the landscape of Almeria, Spain, are criticizing for the manufacturing of thousands of tons of plastic and agricultural waste.

Due to these and other disadvantages, by indoor agriculture advocates, it is not recommended replacing traditional agriculture entirely with this novel technology. Rather than, it is recommended to be used only where it works best: to grow fresh fruits and vegetables that are not well stored and are very sensitive to volatile growth conditions. It will be continued to commodity plants such as corn, wheat, rice, and soy will be grown in an old-fashioned way.

Sure, most of us don’t just have a fruit and vegetable diet. Even if it comes from vegan sources, meat, or fish, we need protein. And in this area where the most amazing technological developments are made.

Chapter 5 – It is the meat industry that lags behind the most radical technological innovations in agriculture.

For more than three billion people, the dominant source of protein is seafood. By other people, chicken, pork, beef, and less common meat are consumed. These are a wide variety of animals. And in every sector of the meat market, there is a huge change taking place to ensure a safe and sustainable product. 

Although it covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface, just 2 percent of the oceans are used for food supply in the world. It is believed by fishing advocates that the future of food is under the sea. However, it is very difficult to make industrial fishing sustainable. Due to overfishing, numerous species and is influenced by warm ocean temperatures even, countless more are affected.

That’s why, by fish farmers, they are turned to technology. For example, by salmon farms in Norway, to new closed environmental systems, it is invested millions of dollars. Thanks to these, salmon is protected from warming temperatures as well as external parasites and waste of the surrounding ecosystem. Such systems will be vital, as new environmental constraints are introduced to the traditional fishing industry.

Growing fish for food has many advantages compared to animals on land. For one thing, the fish consume significantly less food by themselves. Producing one kilo of salmon requires about one kilogram of feed, while about seven kilograms of beef is required. Besides, the livestock-related carbon footprint accounts for about 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Eco-conscious farmers are also used to reduce impacts, such as managed grazing and even cattle cloning experiments. However, due to these high-priced solutions, most of them remain ahead of economic reach.

The meat industry is wanted to be completely rediscovered by other companies. Plant-based “alternative meats” such as the Impossible Burger have recently raised in sales. The Silicon Valley-based Memphis Meat is one of the radical instances. Founded jointly by the stem cell biologist, Memphis Meats grows its product from samples of muscle, fat, and connective tissue in the lab. The taste of the resulting product is similar to beef or poultry that we’re accustomed to.

Although simulation is excellent, animal-free alternative meat is not possible to completely replace animals, particularly by developing countries. As a result, for industrial meat producers, it is significantly vital to be continually working to be enhanced their practices and animal treatments to be made the meat industry more humane, more environmentally friendly, and more efficient.

Chapter 6 – One problem that is challenging but not difficult to overcome is food waste.

As previously learned, the food waste outbreak was one of the undesirable results of the Green Revolution. 52 million tons of food is thrown by Americans each year. Besides, the amount thrown on farms before going to stores is 10 million tons.

This is a big issue. However, what are able we to do?

A difficult issue is the disposal of food waste because, in part, most of the food in American storage areas comes from regular people. Ironically, when people who try to eat healthier, the most to waste is observed often because of the fresher diet. Maybe the reasons can be that; they tried something new that their parents did not like, or thought the food was going bad. By many people, the aesthetics of food is significant.  For this reason, when something is shapeless, slightly rotten, or discolored, by them, foods are not going to be eaten.

To eliminate food waste, it should be started with prevention first. Those that do not look the way you expect are called “ugly” products. Take time to figure out if it’s really bad before throwing something away. We allow us to tell us what to do by the “best if used” date included in the packages. However, these dates are by no means official. For example, milk stored in the refrigerator can usually be used for another week after the date on the carton. When something looks and smells good, eating is probably safe.

Food recovery is the next step. Programs have been launched by Copenhagen, London and other cities around the world to connect shelters and markets to shelters and food banks. Thanks to this, unsold food is helped to go to those who need it most. Besides, when the individual is too much or too little, individuals who help neighbors can benefit from it.

Despite trying too much, some food is always wasted. If this happens, the last step should be composting. It is believed by a lot of people that composting solves the problem completely, but it is deeply the last resort. Cities with municipal composting programs have the highest food waste rates. They are being launched more and more as people think that composting is not counted as waste. It should always be prevention.

Although food waste can never be annihilated, it makes a big difference when we are conscientious about what we select to throw away.

The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World by Amanda Little Book Review

The world is shifting quickly. Also, there is an increasing population. Another thing that changed is the environment. With the old ways to harvest our food supply, it will not be carried us into the future. We must rethink agriculture, adopt the best conventional methods, and replace it with the latest technology. Fortunately, thanks to far-sighted farmers and scientists, there is already a lot of work being done to create a world where no one will starve.

Frozen fruits and vegetables must be embraced. 

An easy way to decrease the amount of food waste in your home is to purchase frozen fruits and vegetables rather than fresh, particularly unless you think you are going to handle them directly. The nutritional value both of frozen products and fresh foods is equal, and they don’t go bad. Do not forget; everything is important.

Download Pdf

Download Epub


Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile:

Recent Posts