STUDENT OF CITIES, CARTOGRAPHY, DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES AND SUSTAINABILITY

ADVANCED FOOD TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH

Agricultural greenhouses in Wilcox, Arizona. Image from Google Earth.

Agricultural greenhouses in Wilcox, Arizona. Image from Google Earth.

A group research paper for a MIT workshop on Landscape + Urbanism
MIT student collaborators: Alex Marks, Nancy H. Kim
Read the full report (pdf).

Advanced Food Technologies

Modern industrial agriculture has increased food production to remarkable levels, sustaining record  populations, reducing income spent on food, and even generating non-consumptive purposes for crops, such as harvesting corn for ethanol production. However, the limited supply of arable land, the increasing pressure of urbanization, the shifting growing conditions resulting from climate change, and the negative impacts of industrial agriculture have spurred research into developing technology that divorces food production from traditional agricultural areas – including developing methods of growing food in urban environments.

Urban agriculture comes with its own host of obstacles. Urban soil has frequently been contaminated through industrial processes. Poor air quality compromises the safety of consuming urban-grown plants. Limited and disjointed space means economies of scale cannot be achieved in production as is seen in industrial agriculture. Advanced food technologies have been developed attempting to overcome these urban limitations. These represent scientific advancements which enable humans to grow food in environments that have never been cultivated before and also represent changing cultural perspectives where agricultural is increasingly perceived as a scientific process, not bound to land or natural systems.