Articles, Blog

The time is now for a sustainable food revolution | Marc Buckley | TEDxTUM

January 15, 2020

Translator: Jim Taylor
Reviewer: Denise RQ I love food. Actually, I love it so much
I just had some not too long ago. Joke aside, I bet it is a safe bet to say
that you all love food. And not just that, we depend on it. It is the very basic of human needs. With all its importance, in my belief, the industry, for the most part,
is doing a terrible job at producing healthy food, especially in a sustainable way. Within the next few minutes, I’m going to share with you my vision of food and beverage production
but also what I mean, and how big and many facets, food and beverage production
play in our lives and in our world. I live in Germany now,
but I used to live in the US and loved to go with my kids
to amusement parks. As you can see here,
back then I used to be a lot bigger. No, I’m not Buzz Lightyear.
I’m the one wearing the white hat. I told you I love food. As you can see, it loved me back. (Laughter) The difference between then and now is that now I just love healthy food. This whole thing is a very wicked problem and has many, many facets. Only by working together can we solve all the issues
that are surrounding this. In March of this year, my wife Anja and I
took a trip through California in conjunction with our attendance at the Natural Products Expo West,
in Anaheim, California looking for healthy food that was produced in a sustainable way. We were excited and hopeful to see what new things were coming out,
what products in the industry, and how the industry on a whole
was developing. My main takeaway from this Expo,
one of the largest in the world, was a lot different than I had hoped for. This whole trip turned out to be
a lot different than I had hoped for. All the products at the Expo
had sugars, sweeteners, preservatives, aromas, fillers,
and probably 20 other things I could list. They were not produced
in a sustainable way, and they did not use recyclable packaging. I left the Expo with some good ideas
of what the world needs as well as some great partners I met
who also share this vision with me. I personally believe in hydration, in hydrating the body,
keeping fluids going through which has many great benefits, but also the need
to frequently visit the restroom. This is when my first epiphany, or my first noticeable difference
on this trip occurred. All of the public restrooms
that I visited along this trip had red Sharps containers. These Sharps containers are
for syringes and medical waste. But there is a reason why they are showing up
more and more in public places especially, at amusement parks,
expos, and so on. There are 347 million reasons, because there are
that many diabetics in the world, there are 500 million people in the world
who have obesity-related disorders, and 235 million people
in the world that have asthma. We have a simultaneous epidemic of obesity and starvation. I don’t know if anybody
has put the two together, but if you have the solution
or can tell me why, I would sure like to know. How can we have obesity
and starvation in the same world? We are sick, and we are suffering as well as our health,
agriculture, and the industry, especially the industry of food production which is still
in the Industrial Revolution. We left Los Angeles and continued our trip
through the Central Valley along Interstate 5 to San Francisco which is a 311-mile stretch of highway. The Central Valley contains
lots of farmland, natural products, plenty of groves, but this is what we saw. We noticed something
different on this trip. It is not allowed to advertise with billboards or any other media along Interstate 5; it’s a law. But yet, this is what we saw. A crisis: farmers,
agriculturists, activists making us aware that there is a problem. This is not something new. Along the Central Valley,
we have known about the drought and there’s been
drought awareness since 2006. Yet, farmers dig deeper wells and continue to use water resources. It is sad what is occurring in this area, and what this drought
is causing for environment, and climate, and global changes. A little bit more down
the road on this trip, a little more than half way
on the Central Valley, I was hit in the face
with a stench of pure manure that choked me up
I almost wanted to vomit. About three minutes after
the smell appeared, I saw this. [Cowschwitz] The smell lingered in the car for hours, in my clothes for hours, but will linger in my memory
and remain there forever. I came to my senses, and I googled, and found out that so many people
have passed this area that they went to Google, tagged it, and left their comments,
and named it Cowschwitz. It’s not the name of the spot, but that’s what they’ve named it
and left their comments of their own experiences
as they passed this. You can see from the cloudiness
of the picture that this smell is not something
that I only experienced. This occurs every single day. And it’s not just the smell, it is dirty emissions. These dirty emissions affect our health, our air,
our water, and our climate. This area, the Central Valley, not only has farmlands,
natural crops, beef, Cowschwitz, that we just saw, is licensed to hold
100,000 head of cattle a day and every year they produce
150 million pounds of beef. This is a chart to show you the efficiency of water, food,
and beverage production. For one pound of beef it is 2,100 gallons or 8,000 liters
for one pound of beef. Two almonds is two gallons. This is absurd. The imbalance of water, greenhouse gases that is occurring in our world
and food production is out of control. The energy used, the greenhouse gases, the water, all go into food production, and we are running out of resources. We need to be more efficient
and figure out the imbalance. This ends my trip, but the trip is not completed yet because there is another aspect
that I want to talk about, and that is food waste. In the US, in the world, 30% of all food that is produced
in a production facility is wasted. That means that it never
makes it to a plate and it is thrown out in the garbage. 100% wasted. We just saw in the slide prior
how much water goes into production, so now, we’ve not only wasted that water but we’ve wasted
the farmers’ time, the marketing time, the processing, the logistics, all the other natural processes
that go into food production. This waste is out of control. The way we can reduce the waste
is by using your energy, being efficient with water. I want to tell you who the primary offenders
are of food waste: gastronomy, grocery, and consumers who don’t want
to buy ugly food. Just because a fruit is ugly
doesn’t mean it can not be eaten. Just because there’s
some expiration date on it doesn’t mean that it can not be eaten. All these problems aside – drought, water resources,
resources in general, the imbalance of use
of our resources in food production as well as food waste – these are just all facets. I believe in human kindness,
human goodness, and the goodness of us all. We’re at a time of exponential growth
and change in our world. There are a lot
of positive things happening. For example, this year is the world famous World Expo
in Milan, Italy, and it carries the theme,
“Feeding the planet, energy for life,” displaying food innovations and solutions for how we can feed
9 billion people by the year 2050. Also, this coming November,
next month, is COP21. It’s taken us 21 times
to discuss climate change, but now we’re bringing
the world together in France for immediate action on climate change. The food and beverage industry is part of every one of our basic needs and fills a very important role
in our lives. Therefore, my vision and my dream
is to change and turn the current food and beverage
production industry on its head and change how we produce food. I have an example that I like to think of
with my kids in the tours of a modern-day,
healthy Willy Wonka factory, except without all the environmental
problems and safety issues. And actually, thinking about that,
all the sugar and secrecy, maybe I should strike that. We don’t want to do
the Willy Wonka example. What we want to do is have
a transparent, open system. The current production that we have
is with smoke stacks, very secretive, you don’t know what’s
going into your product, they don’t grow exclusively
with rain water, they’re not CO2 neutral, they don’t have
an energy balance of net zero, and this is what we want
to turn on its head by using technology, innovation, renewable energy, and resource recycling, not only rain water, water
but our energy that we use from renewable resources,
and saving them to Tesla Powerpacks, that is my vision. But also, having
a transparent and open system where every day, we can give tours, samples,
and show people our facility and how we produce,
and how things are done. We also want to use a complete
water management system where we recycle to 100% rain water. We filter our ground water
with reverse osmosis, we recycle our greywater
and our blackwater, and we reduce the imbalance in water use period in certain products. We also want to use 100% rain water in our vertical farming system
to save on space, energy, using all the machines in our facility
off of renewable energy: solar, wind, sun, power to process our whole facility. It is the truly green system. I hope that you will join me in my vision to change the food
and beverage industry in your own way. I would ask entrepreneurs,
businesses, small and big, no matter how small
or how big your effort, we all have the need for food,
and this food is cost us something. I would ask that you take the money
that you would normally give to someone and only invest it in those
who care about your health, your home, and your future not those that provide you with sugar water
and unsustainable products. Thank you. (Applause) [A time is now
for a sustainable food revolution]

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  • Reply Alfredo Parra January 30, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Let's keep animal products off our plates: it's healthier, it's better for the environment, it's more compassionate, and still delicious 🙂

  • Reply Dusty Stahn January 10, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    This another indoor factory farm with very little information on the factory. Isn't you factory industrialized? How much petroleum will be used to make all the plastic grow trays? How much pollution will that cause? What is the growing medium? What is used for plant nutrients? This would be much more informative than cow bashing. Do you have to make cows look bad in order to make your food factory to look good?

    Your chart on water consumption is impressive but misleading. It implies that two almonds are equivalent to one pound of beef. Is distorting things to fit your sales pitch a standard practice for you?

    You present a one sided prejudiced  view of cattle. I agree animals should not be raised in factory farms and this causes  all kinds of problems. But not all cattle are raised that way. You fail to mention the ways the livestock are beneficial and essential to restoring degraded land quickly and economically and their impact on slowing climate change.

    Grass and herbaceous plants remove carbon from the air and store it in their roots while they are actively growing. They stop growing and start putting their energy into  making seed. Livestock is herded through and allowed to eat only part of the plants. While they are eating they are urinating and defecting thus fertilizing and irrigating at the same time. They stomp some of the plants into the ground providing food for the soil life. This pruning, watering and fertilizing causes the plants to regrow with vigour, removing more carbon and providing more biomass. The livestock are removed so the plants can regrow. This procedure is repeated and fertile soil is built where there was infertile dirt. After a few years the desert is lush a d green. Step by step the desert is pushed back and more crop land is added. Land degraded by chemical farming can be restored by this method.

    Can your food factory do this?

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