As the world becomes increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of livestock farming, vegan and vegetarian alternatives are becoming more popular. Restaurants are now offering more options than just chicken and beef, and people are beginning to explore different types of food. Food production has a huge impact on the environment, from agriculture taking up half of the world's habitable land and most of its fresh water, to livestock production contributing 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. With the world population expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, food production will need to increase by 70%.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how fragile food production systems can be. To ensure sustainability and resilience, the food industry needs to move away from manual labor and weather-dependent methods. One solution is to cultivate indoors, even in urban spaces, with the help of high technology. Some cities are already taking advantage of this, using abandoned underground spaces to grow drought-resistant vegetables and fungi hydroponically.
For example, Cycloponics in France and Growing Underground in London are both doing this in unused car parks and World War II bomb shelters respectively. When it comes to dining out, single-use containers are becoming less common. In New York City, DeliverZero allows restaurants to send deliveries in reusable containers that can be returned to any of their 150 partner restaurants. On a smaller scale, Rose Kitchen in Paris has started offering deliveries in stackable metal containers that customers can buy and refill.
This small gesture can have a big impact when many people adopt it. Brands and manufacturers have also been taking advantage of the growing consumer interest in natural, organic, sustainable and healthy foods (NOSH). They are updating their products to be organically certified so they can meet this trend. Although these products tend to be more expensive and not always easy to find, especially in food deserts, they are a great alternative to processed foods.