Agricultural Revolution 2.0

Agricultural Revolution 2.0


How everything you eat is about to change forever. Say goodbye to farmers and ranchers!

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)


A revolution in food has begun unlike any since the development of agriculture.

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In about a decade or so, your food is going to be a lot different. For the first time since humans began farming and ranching, the way we grow and produce food is about the change --dramatically. Farmers and ranchers, your days are numbered.

Vertical farms already exist on small scale, but their popularity is catching on and rapid expansion and development is expected within the next decade.

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- Around 10,000 B.C., our ancestors changed the way they ate and thereby changed the world. Before that time, our ancestors were forced to hunt and gather for their food. This meant people lived in small wandering bands, probably not exceeding 200 people. Their only job was to find their next meal, a laborious process that often required lengthy periods of walking and running. 

Around 10,000 B.C., our ancestors figured out they could domesticate animals and crops. They learned how to plant and harvest. These advancements were so incredible, historians dubbed the change the "Neolithic Revolution." 

It changed everything. With the need to chase their next meal eliminated, humans were able to settle down and build villages, towns and eventually cities. Labor was divided among the people, religion flourished and bureaucracy developed.

For 12,000 years or more, this is the way the world has worked, thanks entirely to farming and ranching. Even today, wars are fought over control of lands that produce food. Much of the land area on our planet is dedicated to growing food. 

But all this is about to change again, right before your eyes. 

In the next decade, what you eat will change. The first change has already arrived, vertical farming. 

Farming is about to move from rural farms to tall factories called vertical farms. These factories are not run by farmers, but by industrialists who grow greens instead of forge steel. Tall racks, several stories high, are filled with soil, or a soil substitute, planted and watered. The racks rotate, and a new crop is harvested every day. This means produce will be grown year-round, under controlled conditions, using a minimum of resources. This will reduce food costs by improving efficiency and increasing supply. 

At the same time farming moves indoors, so too will ranching. In fact, ranching will undergo the greatest change as we move from growing live animals to simply growing their meat in an industrial setting. 

Scientists have developed what is called "cultured meat." Cultured meat is real meat, grown from stem cells of an actual animal, in a laboratory. The meat is real, but it is grown outside of a living animal, probably in a special tray or vat. At present, the process is difficult and expensive but it's developing. Hamburger patties and meatballs have already been grown, cooked and tsted. There are problems with flavor and texture, but these will be overcome. 

Several startups as well as Tyson Foods have started to pour money into the development of this new source of protein. 

The cost savings are huge. If meat can be grown in a factory, ranchers will not need millions of acres of land. A lot less water can be used. Feed will not be needed, although a synthetic replacement will be required. 

As an added benefit, the meat can be genetically altered to govern its characteristics, such as fat content. It also eliminates the need for additives such as antibiotics and other drugs often administered to ranched animals. The cost of cultured meat will be far below the cost of ranch-raised meats, and ranched meat will become an expensive delicacy. 

The third and final major change in our food supply will be the development and use of genetically modified organisms, often referred to as GMOs. While GMOs have been the subject of controversy, they are here to stay. Most of our foods are already genetically modified. As food production moves from the farm to the factory, and genetic modification becomes easier, its use will expand. Like it or not, the food of the near future will not be like the food of the recent past. 

The timeline for these changes is very short. Vertical farms are already in use and should catch on quickly. GMOs are already in widespread use. And cultured meats are between five years to a decade away, and it may take 20 years before the product is perfected and becomes competitive with ranched meats. But the incentive to make the change is massive, so investment and development are accelerating. 

Perhaps the greatest question of all is how will consumers feel about these changes? Vertically farmed vegetables are already being consumed without complaint. GMOs are also widely consumed although there is some pushback from consumers who fear they are unsafe. Such controversy will probably persist, but the new foods will enter the market anyway. The greatest hurdle is faced by cultured meats, which will be faced with skepticism by consumers who might not trust meat grown in a lab. However, competitive pricing, marketing, and time will ensure cultured meats become the norm of the future. 

Today, we look at 10,000 B.C. as a time of dramatic change for humanity. It now appears that the early 21st century will be seen in much the same way.

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