What Will Happen in the Next 10 Years if Everyone Will Grow Food at Home

By  //  November 14, 2021

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Experts predict how our plates will change in the coming years.

Marion Nestle

I foresee a two-class food system within the next 20 years unless there are major changes. One class consumes industrialized food produced as cheaply as possible at the expense of its workers and natural resources. The other will be able to enjoy home gardens and locally and sustainably produced food at a higher price.

I hope that the latter approach expands greatly. To accomplish this, we need a farm policy that is inextricably linked to health and environmental policy. Advocacy and political engagement are the only ways to accomplish this.

Marion Nestle is professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University.

Mark Bittman

There may be some higher-tech food in the future, but I don’t see much soylent. Our diet is dominated by highly processed food that takes advantage of the way we grow and process crops into food-like substances that for many people taste good, provide enough calories, and are cheap and familiar enough to tolerate, but can barely sustain basic nutrition.

A 3D printed cheeseburger will still be a cheeseburger, regardless of the fancy footwork.

That could be fixed, and then we could be looking at a much better scenario. However, this would require major changes to diet and agriculture.

Changes go hand in hand – a diet based more on plants and fewer animals, and a movement away from chemical-intensive monocropping – but they will not happen without a fight. Maybe even a tragedy.

Mark Bittman writes for the New York Times and is the author of How to Cook Everything.

Dan Barber

The protein-centric dinner plate that America created and exports to the rest of the world is an anomaly in cuisine. It will be obsolete by 2050. In its place, grains, legumes, and homegrown vegetables will take center stage, alongside under-coveted cuts of meat, such as necks and shanks.

In other words, Americans will feed themselves the way most cultures always have. Seeds will become a more crucial part of the conversation. Although we think of seeds as a black and white issue – heirlooms on one hand, GM “frankenfood” on the other – there is a huge spectrum between the two, and 15 years from now we’ll realize that the answer lies in the middle.

Farmers and eaters will collaborate with modern plant breeders to develop new varieties of grains and vegetables that will thrive in their region by combining traditional seed selection with modern technology such as genome mapping. Yield, flavor, nutrition, and locality will all be factors to consider.

Dan Barber is executive chef at Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and the author of The Third Plate.

Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil attends the Tribeca Film Festival 2009 portrait studio at the DIRECTV Tribeca Press Center in New York City on April 27, 2009.

Vertical agriculture will be the next major food revolution as we grow food in AI controlled vertical buildings rather than on horizontal land: hydroponic plants for fruits and vegetables and in vitro cloned meat.

The benefits will be profound:

Over a third of usable land is used for agriculture (70% for animals used for meat production). Vertical farming will free up almost all of this land.

Agriculture today is a major source of pollution of all kinds, including 50 percent of antibiotic usage, one third of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, and almost all pesticide use. Vertical agriculture will be able to recycle all nutrients, capture all pollutants, and eliminate the need for antibiotics and pesticides.

My law of accelerating returns will result in very low food costs due to an exponential improvement in the price-performance of information technology.

The food will be produced close to where it will be consumed since production will be decentralized.

Healthier foods are possible, such as meats with omega 3 fats instead of saturated fats.

Animal cruelty in today’s factory farming will be eliminated.

The 2020’s will be the decade of vertical agriculture.

Ray Kurzweil is an inventor, author and futurist, as well as a Director of Engineering at Google.

Paul West

Currently and in the future, feeding people in America is a three-part challenge. We need to grow more food on current cropland. We already farm the best soils, so expanding into new areas could destroy natural habitats. Second, we need to grow food more efficiently.

Agriculture is the largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions and water use, as well as a major cause of water quality degradation and habitat destruction. Third, we need to use what we already grow more efficiently. About two thirds of all calories produced on croplands are used for livestock feed in the U.S. The production of a calorie of meat requires a lot of feed calories.

Moreover, the amount of corn produced for ethanol increased from 6 to 38 percent between 2000 and 2010. Additionally, a third to half of the food we produce is wasted in the food service industry, retail, and in our refrigerators. Even small changes in diet or waste reduction can have a significant impact on food availability.

Paul West is the co-director and lead scientist of the Global Landscapes Initiative at the University of Minnesota.

Anna Lappé

Similar to the widespread use of energy-efficient light bulbs, appliances, and solar panels, refrigerators of the future will be filled with low carbon items like whole, unprocessed foods, organic produce, more plant-based foods, and sustainably raised meat and dairy. People will understand that food waste is not just a waste of money, it is a contributor to global warming.

Schools-from grade schools to colleges-will have edible gardens on campus and will buy food directly from local farmers. Having launched just a decade or so ago, Farm-to-School now boasts more than 12,500 districts in every state across the nation. The Real Food Challenge, which just launched a few years ago, now has 300 college campuses encouraging the use of “real food” on campus.

Lappé is the founder of Real Food Media Project and author of Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It.

Vegetable Gardening in Small Spaces and Farming Techniques in the Future

For the average person, gardening and farming techniques haven’t changed much over the past century.  However, farming has undergone a quiet revolution over the last 60 years. Since the end of WWII, machinery, tools, fertilizers, pesticides, and plant breeding have dramatically increased productivity.

With technology even more firmly embedded in our culture today, the next generation of hi-tech farmers and horticulturalists are working on ways to further revolutionize gardening and agriculture. Farming and gardening today are unlike anything we’ve ever known, thanks to new technologies that integrate meteorological data and biotechnology, along with innovative lighting techniques.

Today’s tech-savvy agriculturalists are thinking big and outside the box in order to envision gardens and farms of the future. Imagining ways to improve existing processes without losing the innate spirit of gardening or farming is what they’re doing. 

Vertical farming

Gardens traditionally require a fair amount of space for cultivation. Herb gardens can be relatively small, but larger vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, or kale require more space. Especially in urban areas where space is limited, you may not have access to a 5′ x 5′ plot of land that you can dig into, so if you can’t grow out, then grow up.

The need for space in urban areas led directly to the design of this radical new garden. Gardeners or farmers can produce in one acre the same yield as 4-6 acres of traditionally farmed land by growing vertically. In addition to improving production per square foot, vertical gardens can be cultivated indoors or outdoors, use 70 percent less water, and grow food year-round indoors.

Considering the overall impact of vertical farming on the future of food, it has the potential to transform cities into agriculture factories in the future. Kenneth Freeman, an interior landscaping and sustainability consultant, believes that LED lighting technology has played a huge role in the urbanization of farming.

“Today’s LED lighting accelerates plant growth and allows for high-yield farming to be accomplished in small, urban areas while remaining cost-effective,” says Freeman.  “The technology has improved to where these lights produce far less heat than before. They no longer require building owners to spend a fortune installing expensive air conditioning units to prevent overheating. Temperatures, for the most part, remain stable in these indoor farming endeavors.” 

Farmer or agronomist uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality to help grow systems, save water and resources, reduce labor time and create high yields

High-tech garden tools

Could the plants in your garden communicate with you? It sounds like a pretty far-fetched idea, but technology has made it possible. Now there are devices that tell you when your plants need watering or when the nitrogen levels in the soil are low. Thanks to the Internet of Things, you can monitor your garden in order to ensure the highest yields and healthiest plants.

There are devices like Edyn and greenIQ which allow you to monitor soil mineral content, soil moisture levels, sunlight exposure, and greenIQ can even tap into weather forecasts in order to warn you when it’s about to rain so you don’t overwater your plants. Using a WiFi connection, all the data and monitoring reports are logged and sent directly to your device.

Interior landscapers are embracing new technology to ensure better, healthier ornamental plant displays.  According to Freeman, new sensor technology has recently been developed to monitor the condition of green walls and valuable indoor trees. 

“The Internet of Things will provide landscapers with early warnings of potential problems so they can be addressed before problems become visible or plants need to be replaced.”

Hydroponic gardens

A relatively new technology, hydroponic agriculture has gained popularity over the past few years for several reasons, but primarily for its faster plant growth rate and higher yields. Furthermore, hydroponic gardening is incredibly water-efficient, doesn’t require soil, and requires less space.

Hydroponics and vertical gardening are just a few of the reasons why they are seen as integral to feeding our planet’s growing population.

But what is hydroponic growing? It is basically growing plants without soil. A water pump system feeds nutrient-rich solutions to the plants at regular intervals in place of soil. The system uses only about 10 percent of the amount of water that traditional farming techniques do.

Most of these systems offer almost complete control over the farmer’s crop, including temperature control, nutrient control, and water distribution. Hydroponics may be a big part of our future, despite its infancy.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to become completely self-sufficient overnight, or at all, by growing your own food.

It is still possible to grow your own herbs in small pots on your windowsill or in trays hanging over your balcony if you have one, even if you don’t have outdoor space. Herbs like basil, rosemary, and mint are great all-rounders.

A simple salad garden is a great place to start if you have a garden. You can start with tomatoes and lettuce if you’re just getting started. Small cherry tomatoes can even be grown in hanging baskets!

Peas are also relatively simple plants, and since they grow up on vines, they don’t require much ground space.

Having a sustainable lifestyle, such as growing your own food, would have a big impact in the next 10 years, just as Dan Barber predicted that Americans will feed themselves in the future the same way most cultures have, namely by growing their own food and adapting the sustainable lifestyle.

So what are you waiting for? Buy those seeds, and start planting!