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“Sustainable” Agriculture: often debated, rarely understood

“Sustainable” Agriculture: often debated, rarely understood

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January 25, 2014

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Food Tank

Current agricultural practices are diminishing our ability to produce food in the future. Hence, swallowing food today is also swallowing food that won’t be available in the future.


Out in San Francisco, a 25-year-old engineer has created what may be the most viable food replacement created to date, with major implications for world hunger and a variety of other agricultural and health woes plaguing our world. In Harlem, a culinary incubator called Hot Bread Kitchen is home to forty-five start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs. Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber just published a very thorough treatise on how we can all be better farmers, chefs, and eaters. And John Fetterman, the mayor of a burned-out postindustrial Pittsburgh suburb, thinks he can save his dying town by building a restaurant, Field of Dreams style.

Some are out to make the world a better place. Some are out to make a buck. But all of those people are trying to change their corner of the world through food.

The appreciation of and connection to food as a cultural force (and not just fuel) is now well established as mainstream. It's cool to know about food. It grounds TV shows, movies, books, and blogs. With the cachet that comes from working in the food world comes power, influence, the ability to change lives, to change the world. David Chang isn't just a food world revolutionary, sectioned off to and appreciated by the insular New York City restaurant world cognoscenti. He's a mainstream figure. He's selling Audis on TV. Tom Colicchio is testifying before Congress about GMOs.

And the public isn't just becoming aware of the food world via Top Chef-like reality shows. We are also learning about how our food system is broken. Industrial farming, agricultural subsidies, diminishing water supplies, childhood obesity. Food world personalities are becoming powerful and influential at an important moment when the public is open to and aware of the greater problems facing our globe. And there are inherent elements to food—it's essential, it's universal, it involves feeding, cooking, and sharing—that make it a natural vehicle for progress and positive change.

Which means now—right now, this year, this month, this minute—the food community is perfectly poised to affect real change. And a good number of people are trying.

So to mark the relaunch of Eater, we asked them about it. Our worst problems as a society—hunger, greed, overuse of resources—are linked to food. And so are some of our best ideas. Not just the practical, selfless world-saving notions but also ideas that are philosophical, progressive, and out-there, crazy, absurdist hilarious. What follows in this piece is a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction. We're inclined to agree.

— Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief


Out in San Francisco, a 25-year-old engineer has created what may be the most viable food replacement created to date, with major implications for world hunger and a variety of other agricultural and health woes plaguing our world. In Harlem, a culinary incubator called Hot Bread Kitchen is home to forty-five start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs. Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber just published a very thorough treatise on how we can all be better farmers, chefs, and eaters. And John Fetterman, the mayor of a burned-out postindustrial Pittsburgh suburb, thinks he can save his dying town by building a restaurant, Field of Dreams style.

Some are out to make the world a better place. Some are out to make a buck. But all of those people are trying to change their corner of the world through food.

The appreciation of and connection to food as a cultural force (and not just fuel) is now well established as mainstream. It's cool to know about food. It grounds TV shows, movies, books, and blogs. With the cachet that comes from working in the food world comes power, influence, the ability to change lives, to change the world. David Chang isn't just a food world revolutionary, sectioned off to and appreciated by the insular New York City restaurant world cognoscenti. He's a mainstream figure. He's selling Audis on TV. Tom Colicchio is testifying before Congress about GMOs.

And the public isn't just becoming aware of the food world via Top Chef-like reality shows. We are also learning about how our food system is broken. Industrial farming, agricultural subsidies, diminishing water supplies, childhood obesity. Food world personalities are becoming powerful and influential at an important moment when the public is open to and aware of the greater problems facing our globe. And there are inherent elements to food—it's essential, it's universal, it involves feeding, cooking, and sharing—that make it a natural vehicle for progress and positive change.

Which means now—right now, this year, this month, this minute—the food community is perfectly poised to affect real change. And a good number of people are trying.

So to mark the relaunch of Eater, we asked them about it. Our worst problems as a society—hunger, greed, overuse of resources—are linked to food. And so are some of our best ideas. Not just the practical, selfless world-saving notions but also ideas that are philosophical, progressive, and out-there, crazy, absurdist hilarious. What follows in this piece is a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction. We're inclined to agree.

— Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief


Out in San Francisco, a 25-year-old engineer has created what may be the most viable food replacement created to date, with major implications for world hunger and a variety of other agricultural and health woes plaguing our world. In Harlem, a culinary incubator called Hot Bread Kitchen is home to forty-five start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs. Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber just published a very thorough treatise on how we can all be better farmers, chefs, and eaters. And John Fetterman, the mayor of a burned-out postindustrial Pittsburgh suburb, thinks he can save his dying town by building a restaurant, Field of Dreams style.

Some are out to make the world a better place. Some are out to make a buck. But all of those people are trying to change their corner of the world through food.

The appreciation of and connection to food as a cultural force (and not just fuel) is now well established as mainstream. It's cool to know about food. It grounds TV shows, movies, books, and blogs. With the cachet that comes from working in the food world comes power, influence, the ability to change lives, to change the world. David Chang isn't just a food world revolutionary, sectioned off to and appreciated by the insular New York City restaurant world cognoscenti. He's a mainstream figure. He's selling Audis on TV. Tom Colicchio is testifying before Congress about GMOs.

And the public isn't just becoming aware of the food world via Top Chef-like reality shows. We are also learning about how our food system is broken. Industrial farming, agricultural subsidies, diminishing water supplies, childhood obesity. Food world personalities are becoming powerful and influential at an important moment when the public is open to and aware of the greater problems facing our globe. And there are inherent elements to food—it's essential, it's universal, it involves feeding, cooking, and sharing—that make it a natural vehicle for progress and positive change.

Which means now—right now, this year, this month, this minute—the food community is perfectly poised to affect real change. And a good number of people are trying.

So to mark the relaunch of Eater, we asked them about it. Our worst problems as a society—hunger, greed, overuse of resources—are linked to food. And so are some of our best ideas. Not just the practical, selfless world-saving notions but also ideas that are philosophical, progressive, and out-there, crazy, absurdist hilarious. What follows in this piece is a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction. We're inclined to agree.

— Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief


Out in San Francisco, a 25-year-old engineer has created what may be the most viable food replacement created to date, with major implications for world hunger and a variety of other agricultural and health woes plaguing our world. In Harlem, a culinary incubator called Hot Bread Kitchen is home to forty-five start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs. Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber just published a very thorough treatise on how we can all be better farmers, chefs, and eaters. And John Fetterman, the mayor of a burned-out postindustrial Pittsburgh suburb, thinks he can save his dying town by building a restaurant, Field of Dreams style.

Some are out to make the world a better place. Some are out to make a buck. But all of those people are trying to change their corner of the world through food.

The appreciation of and connection to food as a cultural force (and not just fuel) is now well established as mainstream. It's cool to know about food. It grounds TV shows, movies, books, and blogs. With the cachet that comes from working in the food world comes power, influence, the ability to change lives, to change the world. David Chang isn't just a food world revolutionary, sectioned off to and appreciated by the insular New York City restaurant world cognoscenti. He's a mainstream figure. He's selling Audis on TV. Tom Colicchio is testifying before Congress about GMOs.

And the public isn't just becoming aware of the food world via Top Chef-like reality shows. We are also learning about how our food system is broken. Industrial farming, agricultural subsidies, diminishing water supplies, childhood obesity. Food world personalities are becoming powerful and influential at an important moment when the public is open to and aware of the greater problems facing our globe. And there are inherent elements to food—it's essential, it's universal, it involves feeding, cooking, and sharing—that make it a natural vehicle for progress and positive change.

Which means now—right now, this year, this month, this minute—the food community is perfectly poised to affect real change. And a good number of people are trying.

So to mark the relaunch of Eater, we asked them about it. Our worst problems as a society—hunger, greed, overuse of resources—are linked to food. And so are some of our best ideas. Not just the practical, selfless world-saving notions but also ideas that are philosophical, progressive, and out-there, crazy, absurdist hilarious. What follows in this piece is a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction. We're inclined to agree.

— Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief


Out in San Francisco, a 25-year-old engineer has created what may be the most viable food replacement created to date, with major implications for world hunger and a variety of other agricultural and health woes plaguing our world. In Harlem, a culinary incubator called Hot Bread Kitchen is home to forty-five start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs. Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber just published a very thorough treatise on how we can all be better farmers, chefs, and eaters. And John Fetterman, the mayor of a burned-out postindustrial Pittsburgh suburb, thinks he can save his dying town by building a restaurant, Field of Dreams style.

Some are out to make the world a better place. Some are out to make a buck. But all of those people are trying to change their corner of the world through food.

The appreciation of and connection to food as a cultural force (and not just fuel) is now well established as mainstream. It's cool to know about food. It grounds TV shows, movies, books, and blogs. With the cachet that comes from working in the food world comes power, influence, the ability to change lives, to change the world. David Chang isn't just a food world revolutionary, sectioned off to and appreciated by the insular New York City restaurant world cognoscenti. He's a mainstream figure. He's selling Audis on TV. Tom Colicchio is testifying before Congress about GMOs.

And the public isn't just becoming aware of the food world via Top Chef-like reality shows. We are also learning about how our food system is broken. Industrial farming, agricultural subsidies, diminishing water supplies, childhood obesity. Food world personalities are becoming powerful and influential at an important moment when the public is open to and aware of the greater problems facing our globe. And there are inherent elements to food—it's essential, it's universal, it involves feeding, cooking, and sharing—that make it a natural vehicle for progress and positive change.

Which means now—right now, this year, this month, this minute—the food community is perfectly poised to affect real change. And a good number of people are trying.

So to mark the relaunch of Eater, we asked them about it. Our worst problems as a society—hunger, greed, overuse of resources—are linked to food. And so are some of our best ideas. Not just the practical, selfless world-saving notions but also ideas that are philosophical, progressive, and out-there, crazy, absurdist hilarious. What follows in this piece is a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction. We're inclined to agree.

— Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief


Out in San Francisco, a 25-year-old engineer has created what may be the most viable food replacement created to date, with major implications for world hunger and a variety of other agricultural and health woes plaguing our world. In Harlem, a culinary incubator called Hot Bread Kitchen is home to forty-five start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs. Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber just published a very thorough treatise on how we can all be better farmers, chefs, and eaters. And John Fetterman, the mayor of a burned-out postindustrial Pittsburgh suburb, thinks he can save his dying town by building a restaurant, Field of Dreams style.

Some are out to make the world a better place. Some are out to make a buck. But all of those people are trying to change their corner of the world through food.

The appreciation of and connection to food as a cultural force (and not just fuel) is now well established as mainstream. It's cool to know about food. It grounds TV shows, movies, books, and blogs. With the cachet that comes from working in the food world comes power, influence, the ability to change lives, to change the world. David Chang isn't just a food world revolutionary, sectioned off to and appreciated by the insular New York City restaurant world cognoscenti. He's a mainstream figure. He's selling Audis on TV. Tom Colicchio is testifying before Congress about GMOs.

And the public isn't just becoming aware of the food world via Top Chef-like reality shows. We are also learning about how our food system is broken. Industrial farming, agricultural subsidies, diminishing water supplies, childhood obesity. Food world personalities are becoming powerful and influential at an important moment when the public is open to and aware of the greater problems facing our globe. And there are inherent elements to food—it's essential, it's universal, it involves feeding, cooking, and sharing—that make it a natural vehicle for progress and positive change.

Which means now—right now, this year, this month, this minute—the food community is perfectly poised to affect real change. And a good number of people are trying.

So to mark the relaunch of Eater, we asked them about it. Our worst problems as a society—hunger, greed, overuse of resources—are linked to food. And so are some of our best ideas. Not just the practical, selfless world-saving notions but also ideas that are philosophical, progressive, and out-there, crazy, absurdist hilarious. What follows in this piece is a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction. We're inclined to agree.

— Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief


Out in San Francisco, a 25-year-old engineer has created what may be the most viable food replacement created to date, with major implications for world hunger and a variety of other agricultural and health woes plaguing our world. In Harlem, a culinary incubator called Hot Bread Kitchen is home to forty-five start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs. Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber just published a very thorough treatise on how we can all be better farmers, chefs, and eaters. And John Fetterman, the mayor of a burned-out postindustrial Pittsburgh suburb, thinks he can save his dying town by building a restaurant, Field of Dreams style.

Some are out to make the world a better place. Some are out to make a buck. But all of those people are trying to change their corner of the world through food.

The appreciation of and connection to food as a cultural force (and not just fuel) is now well established as mainstream. It's cool to know about food. It grounds TV shows, movies, books, and blogs. With the cachet that comes from working in the food world comes power, influence, the ability to change lives, to change the world. David Chang isn't just a food world revolutionary, sectioned off to and appreciated by the insular New York City restaurant world cognoscenti. He's a mainstream figure. He's selling Audis on TV. Tom Colicchio is testifying before Congress about GMOs.

And the public isn't just becoming aware of the food world via Top Chef-like reality shows. We are also learning about how our food system is broken. Industrial farming, agricultural subsidies, diminishing water supplies, childhood obesity. Food world personalities are becoming powerful and influential at an important moment when the public is open to and aware of the greater problems facing our globe. And there are inherent elements to food—it's essential, it's universal, it involves feeding, cooking, and sharing—that make it a natural vehicle for progress and positive change.

Which means now—right now, this year, this month, this minute—the food community is perfectly poised to affect real change. And a good number of people are trying.

So to mark the relaunch of Eater, we asked them about it. Our worst problems as a society—hunger, greed, overuse of resources—are linked to food. And so are some of our best ideas. Not just the practical, selfless world-saving notions but also ideas that are philosophical, progressive, and out-there, crazy, absurdist hilarious. What follows in this piece is a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction. We're inclined to agree.

— Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief


Out in San Francisco, a 25-year-old engineer has created what may be the most viable food replacement created to date, with major implications for world hunger and a variety of other agricultural and health woes plaguing our world. In Harlem, a culinary incubator called Hot Bread Kitchen is home to forty-five start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs. Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber just published a very thorough treatise on how we can all be better farmers, chefs, and eaters. And John Fetterman, the mayor of a burned-out postindustrial Pittsburgh suburb, thinks he can save his dying town by building a restaurant, Field of Dreams style.

Some are out to make the world a better place. Some are out to make a buck. But all of those people are trying to change their corner of the world through food.

The appreciation of and connection to food as a cultural force (and not just fuel) is now well established as mainstream. It's cool to know about food. It grounds TV shows, movies, books, and blogs. With the cachet that comes from working in the food world comes power, influence, the ability to change lives, to change the world. David Chang isn't just a food world revolutionary, sectioned off to and appreciated by the insular New York City restaurant world cognoscenti. He's a mainstream figure. He's selling Audis on TV. Tom Colicchio is testifying before Congress about GMOs.

And the public isn't just becoming aware of the food world via Top Chef-like reality shows. We are also learning about how our food system is broken. Industrial farming, agricultural subsidies, diminishing water supplies, childhood obesity. Food world personalities are becoming powerful and influential at an important moment when the public is open to and aware of the greater problems facing our globe. And there are inherent elements to food—it's essential, it's universal, it involves feeding, cooking, and sharing—that make it a natural vehicle for progress and positive change.

Which means now—right now, this year, this month, this minute—the food community is perfectly poised to affect real change. And a good number of people are trying.

So to mark the relaunch of Eater, we asked them about it. Our worst problems as a society—hunger, greed, overuse of resources—are linked to food. And so are some of our best ideas. Not just the practical, selfless world-saving notions but also ideas that are philosophical, progressive, and out-there, crazy, absurdist hilarious. What follows in this piece is a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction. We're inclined to agree.

— Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief


Out in San Francisco, a 25-year-old engineer has created what may be the most viable food replacement created to date, with major implications for world hunger and a variety of other agricultural and health woes plaguing our world. In Harlem, a culinary incubator called Hot Bread Kitchen is home to forty-five start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs. Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber just published a very thorough treatise on how we can all be better farmers, chefs, and eaters. And John Fetterman, the mayor of a burned-out postindustrial Pittsburgh suburb, thinks he can save his dying town by building a restaurant, Field of Dreams style.

Some are out to make the world a better place. Some are out to make a buck. But all of those people are trying to change their corner of the world through food.

The appreciation of and connection to food as a cultural force (and not just fuel) is now well established as mainstream. It's cool to know about food. It grounds TV shows, movies, books, and blogs. With the cachet that comes from working in the food world comes power, influence, the ability to change lives, to change the world. David Chang isn't just a food world revolutionary, sectioned off to and appreciated by the insular New York City restaurant world cognoscenti. He's a mainstream figure. He's selling Audis on TV. Tom Colicchio is testifying before Congress about GMOs.

And the public isn't just becoming aware of the food world via Top Chef-like reality shows. We are also learning about how our food system is broken. Industrial farming, agricultural subsidies, diminishing water supplies, childhood obesity. Food world personalities are becoming powerful and influential at an important moment when the public is open to and aware of the greater problems facing our globe. And there are inherent elements to food—it's essential, it's universal, it involves feeding, cooking, and sharing—that make it a natural vehicle for progress and positive change.

Which means now—right now, this year, this month, this minute—the food community is perfectly poised to affect real change. And a good number of people are trying.

So to mark the relaunch of Eater, we asked them about it. Our worst problems as a society—hunger, greed, overuse of resources—are linked to food. And so are some of our best ideas. Not just the practical, selfless world-saving notions but also ideas that are philosophical, progressive, and out-there, crazy, absurdist hilarious. What follows in this piece is a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction. We're inclined to agree.

— Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief


Out in San Francisco, a 25-year-old engineer has created what may be the most viable food replacement created to date, with major implications for world hunger and a variety of other agricultural and health woes plaguing our world. In Harlem, a culinary incubator called Hot Bread Kitchen is home to forty-five start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs. Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber just published a very thorough treatise on how we can all be better farmers, chefs, and eaters. And John Fetterman, the mayor of a burned-out postindustrial Pittsburgh suburb, thinks he can save his dying town by building a restaurant, Field of Dreams style.

Some are out to make the world a better place. Some are out to make a buck. But all of those people are trying to change their corner of the world through food.

The appreciation of and connection to food as a cultural force (and not just fuel) is now well established as mainstream. It's cool to know about food. It grounds TV shows, movies, books, and blogs. With the cachet that comes from working in the food world comes power, influence, the ability to change lives, to change the world. David Chang isn't just a food world revolutionary, sectioned off to and appreciated by the insular New York City restaurant world cognoscenti. He's a mainstream figure. He's selling Audis on TV. Tom Colicchio is testifying before Congress about GMOs.

And the public isn't just becoming aware of the food world via Top Chef-like reality shows. We are also learning about how our food system is broken. Industrial farming, agricultural subsidies, diminishing water supplies, childhood obesity. Food world personalities are becoming powerful and influential at an important moment when the public is open to and aware of the greater problems facing our globe. And there are inherent elements to food—it's essential, it's universal, it involves feeding, cooking, and sharing—that make it a natural vehicle for progress and positive change.

Which means now—right now, this year, this month, this minute—the food community is perfectly poised to affect real change. And a good number of people are trying.

So to mark the relaunch of Eater, we asked them about it. Our worst problems as a society—hunger, greed, overuse of resources—are linked to food. And so are some of our best ideas. Not just the practical, selfless world-saving notions but also ideas that are philosophical, progressive, and out-there, crazy, absurdist hilarious. What follows in this piece is a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction. We're inclined to agree.

— Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief