In the backdrop of a world suffering from countless health and nutrition related problems ranging from pollution to food shortage, malnutrition and food adulteration, Japanese scientists have been looking into scalable production methods that will bring back farming to the modern world dominated by efficiency, productivity and technology.
The world’s nations have progressively moved away from agriculture over the decades, with countries ranking higher on the development scale as they move farther away from agriculture, and towards service sectors, following industrial orientations. However, owing to the growing needs of the global population, Japan, has traced its steps back to agriculture, attempting to marry the field with the industrial sector.
The result? Farming in laboratories.
In 200 ‘plants factories’ all over Japan, vegetables are being cultivated in completely artificial environments inside laboratories, in the absence of sunlight, wind and soil, on trays stacked onto shelves. SPREAD Co. Ltd. is one such factory that harvests approximately 20,000 lettuce heads every day and distributes them to major supermarkets and vendors.
The lettuces grow in a nutrient-rich gelatinous substance instead of soil, and receive energy from LED lights overhead that are automated to switch on during daytime and off at night. Traditional conditions required for growing these veggies are alien to these laboratories.
So it’s true, the future IS here.
The possibilities from technology like these are endless – this could curb world hunger and make cultivation of ANY crop possible ANYWHERE in the world, regardless of how remote or unsuitable. If properly scaled, these artificially cultivated vegetables, lower in cost, could replace traditionally sourced food in many heavyweight industries – as it has already done within the airline industry in Japan.
But going back to our original question, is this the future we want?
Regardless of its benefits, the idea of laboratory manufactured food is strongly reminiscent of all the novels set in dystopian futures that we’ve read about. How long until the rage surrounding fresh organic produce is replaced by cheap convenient readily available lab produce? How long until wholesome meals are replaced by functional nutritional tablets and capsules?
It’s inevitable that mankind will adapt, evolve and innovate to solve its problems as a species for survival, but for now, these little things of our lives that are so real, might just be worth appreciating and holding on to until they last.