How Agriculture Technology Affects Food Consumption During Innovative Times
2020 has been a challenging year for many, especially for those dealing with chronic hunger. Due to COVID-19, an estimated 130 million more people went hungry in comparison to 2019, making food consumption that much more important. In our second Families of Worth session, we discussed how sustainable food supply chains can be built using agriculture technology. Mark Tracy, CEO at Cloud Agronomics, Jaymin Patel, executive chairman at Cloud Agronomics, and Jim McCann, founder of 1-800 Flowers and Worth‘s very own chairman, shared their insight on this prominent revolution.
Cloud Agronomics is a company that uses technology and data to take a deeper look into plants and their soil. “It almost acts as a CT scan for those objects that we’re looking at and giving us an understanding in near real-time about their health,” Tracy explained.
Tracy noted there has been a shift in the food industry in recent years. “I have both good news and bad news,” he said. “The good news is we have a tremendous amount of interest in the food sector now. You know, now for undergraduates at Brown and other institutions, it’s actually cool to be thinking about a food-related startup or a food business. And that’s a tremendous sea change.”
“We have individuals and leaders who are now really concerned about where their food comes from, and its impact on the planet, and that’s created a sea change about the conversation that’s even reached the highest level of government,” Tracy continued. “We’re seeing a tremendous amount of investment come into the sector, which is the engine that is required for this innovation to take place because there’s tremendous upfront crop costs into addressing big food and agriculture.”
However, the downside to this is how outdated the legacy system is. Fortunately, it still gets the job done. “It produces a lot of food at the lowest cost possible and does a fairly good job of moving that food around the world—from areas of surplus to areas of deficit,” Tracy explained. But because its main focus is to produce food at a fast rate, the quality of food isn’t a priority, which is a major issue concerning health. Additionally, the way the food is being produced is harmful to the planet.
The solution to this lies in creating a second Green Revolution and focusing on “managing agriculture’s impact on climate change,” Tracy elaborated. “And as we all know, this is perhaps the most pressing problem we’ve had in multiple generations, as a society, how we start to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and even go beyond that, start pulling those gases back into sinks that will allow us to reduce the effects of climate change.”
Giving farmers more control so that they can adopt what Tracy refers to as “regenerative practices or regenerative farming” can make all the difference.
“My message overall is optimism,” Tracy said. “There are some wonderful things happening.”