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The end of food as we know it
1st March, 2008
It’s 2008, and feeding ourselves has never been easier. We take for granted a supply of every agricultural commodity on the planet, 365 days a year. Food is cheap. Never in living memory have we spent less on it as a proportion of our total expenditure. Even our poorest citizens can afford the luxury foods of yesteryear, like salmon and chicken.Where our great-grandparents, grandparents and parents fretted about not having enough to eat, that thought has never crossed our minds. We take a constant, reliable flow of food so much for granted that we squander it. Our forebears abhorred waste and revered what was known as ‘domestic economy’. We routinely bin uneaten a third of the food we buy, without giving it a second thought.
But roll the clock forward to 2018 and the picture is beginning to look dramatically different. The era of plenty is coming to an end. Two overarching imperatives are redrawing our food landscape: climate change and a chronic shortage of fuel. Soon we will need to wake up to the fact that the way we have been feeding ourselves for the last two decades is not sustainable and start re-skilling ourselves for a new food century. The writing is on the wall. Already there are food shortages, catalysed by climate changeinduced drought and flood, and exacerbated by the growing taste around the world for a more globalised, Western-style diet. So far, in affluent Northern countries like ours, the change manifests itself in the cost of food – everything from wheat to milk and meat is clocking up major price-hikes. As yet still a...
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