A wide-ranging examination of approaches to food production that point the way to feeding the more crowded, hotter, and drier world of the future.
Environmental journalist Little (Journalism and Writer-in-Residence/Vanderbilt Univ.; Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells—Our Ride to the Renewable Future, 2009) recounts her travels around the globe seeking out stories that illustrate problems and solutions related to food production and climate change. Among others, she had insightful discussions with farmers in Wisconsin, Mexico, China, and Kenya. In Norway, a salmon farmer introduced her to aquaculture, and in New Jersey, she learned the hows and whys of aeroponics, or vertical farming. An Israeli engineer demonstrated to the author that country’s solutions to the water shortage, and she visited a California lab where cultured meat is being grown via cellular agriculture. Besides giving readers entertaining profiles of her interviewees, she shares her experiences in a lively, personable manner with just a few statistics and lots of pertinent quotes. She chronicles how she ate cultured meat and 3-D–printed food and drank specially treated water. Little, an open-minded author who has a knack for picking the brains of the right people, also looks at food waste, ancient crops with traits of climate resistance, cloud-seeding, and 3-D printing of military meals. The illustrations are rather sparse, small, and black-and-white, but one worth the price of admission reveals an “unsuccessful attempt to 3D-print hummus flatbread with an avocado star.” As the author shows, true innovation takes patience and time. Little’s take-home message is that innovation combined with good judgment can provide the solutions to the coming food crisis. She calls for a synthesis of the wisdom of the past with the ingenuity of the present to help us survive the future.
An important, well-documented report that is highly readable, fact-filled, and eye-opening.