One of the wonderful but irritating qualities of the technology culture prevalent in Silicon Valley and various other wannabe Silcon Somethings is the attitude that its engineers can fix everything wrong with the world. Joscelin Cooper, part of that very culture, describes how some of the Valley’s finest have turned to the world’s food crisis, writing at VentureBeat:
The technology industry can have an important impact on fixing the food system both by inventing new systems and infrastructure to reduce food waste, and ensuring that healthy, affordable food is widely available. Here are a few people and programs making a difference:
Invest in fake meat
Khosla Ventures has invested in numerous food-tech projects to create healthier foods that reduce the environmental impact of heavy meat consumption. As people in developing nations become more affluent, demand for meat products has gone up. However, the planet cannot sustain this growing market. Around 15 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gases are produced by livestock farming. Raising livestock also uses a massive amount of water, and has a detrimental (in some cases, entirely destructive) impact on ecosystems.
Investor Peter Thiel has backed Modern Meadow, a company devoted to creating tissue cultures that are biologically ‘meat’, without inflicting the damage that meat production, transportation, and slaughter wrecks upon the environment. If the idea of lab-grown meat doesn’t already warp your mind, consider that the products will essentially be produced via 3D printer.
Reduce food waste
Startup Leftover Swap allows neighbors to share their unwanted surplus food. If you have one too many portions of lasagna, or over-ordered take out, you can list your uneaten food on the app for it to be snapped up, sharing economy style. Besides helping to build community interactions, Leftover Swap also seeks to put a dent in the massive amount of food we waste every year.
Foodstar has created a technology that allows people to be alerted when produce that is near-expiration, or that doesn’t meet ‘aesthetic requirements’ is about to be pulled from shelves. Shoppers receive a notification to buy the food at a steep discount. Leftover, unpurchased food is then composted, rather than heading to a landfill…
[continues at VentureBeat]