Future Foods for Urban Food Production

Published on 04 October 2021


Urban food security, a global concern for over four billion city dwellers, currently relies on traditional staple foods, underpinned by conventional systems of food production and provision. These systems and supply chains are vulnerable to a litany of biotic and abiotic risks, and thereby to yield failures. Future foods, including microalgae, macroalgae, bivalve mollusks, mycoprotein, insect larvae, and cultured meat, may provide nutritious and sustainable alternatives to customary food sources. Furthermore, against the backdrop of risks to conventional food systems, future foods may be cultivated in state-of-the-art, closed-environment configurations that mitigate exposure to external hazards. Such configurations provide a risk-resilient supply of safe and nutritious foods through a decentralized and modular architecture of discrete production units. Additionally, these novel farming systems may be integrated into urban landscapes and mixed-use buildings, allowing localization of food supply chains, consequently facilitating the rise of compact cities and prosumer innovations in food cultivation techniques and end use products, as well as realizing circular economy co-benefits, such as waste recycling. As advanced controlled-environment agriculture technologies, future foods production systems are well suited for smart city and Agriculture 4.0 applications. Mainly, sensor and automation technologies may be used to optimize internal physical, chemical, and biological cultivation processes and parameters. Big data infrastructure, such as the Internet of Things, participatory sensing, cloud computing, and data mining, can take full advantage of consumer insights and connectivity for efficient management of urban food systems of the future.

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