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Designing the future of food sustainability

A new exhibition at the Museum of Design Atlanta tackles sustainability challenges in today’s food systems

Radishes

It may be stating the obvious, but ensuring people have enough water, food and resources is necessary for human survival. And when it comes to food sustainability, many farmers, grocers, scientists, engineers and designers believe the current global food system is not sustainable—ecologically or economically.

The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) is investigating better ways to feed people with its new exhibition, Food by Design: Sustaining the Future. Curated and executed by local artists and designers, the exhibition brings together innovators who are redesigning food systems, bringing to light innovative, sustainable practices that could help feed the world while better protecting the environment.

From the future of farming to high-tech grocery stores to cellular agriculture, the exhibition includes about 50 projects that are being tested to encourage sustainable food production, improve food security, and minimize food waste and transport. Let’s face it: there’s no time like the present to develop sustainable methods of growing food as well as efficient ways to transport it to the consumer. To add to that, urban density is only going to intensify. Challenges such as the use of pesticides, food deserts, and the long distances needed to transport food are issues that must be addressed.

Part of the solution may involve getting our hands dirty. One area of the exhibit looks at urban agriculture and how cities with high population density can grow their own food by reclaiming unused land and transforming it into community gardens. (Not only are Atlanta, Ga. residents allowed to grow their own food but they can get a business licence to sell it, too.) Then there’s indoor farming, which allows families to grow produce inside their own home. Replantable, one of the featured projects, is a stackable nanofarm system that creates an organic wall of vegetables right in your apartment or house, and uses only US$1 worth of electricity per month.

Other highlights include virtual grocery stores, where customers can select products and have them delivered to their homes via an app on their smartphones, and sensors that detect when fruit is ripe for picking off the tree.

The MODA exhibition is proof that designers, engineers and scientists can come together as innovators, redesigning the way we grow and access our food to optimize sustainability. The end game? To have efficiently designed food systems that can produce enough healthy food for the world.

Food by Design: Sustaining the Future runs until May 7, 2017 at the Museum of Design Atlanta.

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