One of the best things about globalisation is the ability to enjoy the tastes of produce from anywhere in the world – from the avocado on toast you had for lunch to the tequila in your drink.
However, with over 55% of the world’s population living in urban areas, it is becoming more and more difficult to provide high quality produce at an affordable price and simultaneously keep up with demand. An estimated 11% of the world’s population is undernourished, and around 9% are severely food insecure. No, that doesn’t mean they lose all self-confidence at the sight of a sandwich. ‘Food security’ exists when you have access to enough food to lead an active, healthy life, with an emphasis on supply – can you consistently get the nutrients you need without using an emergency supply line? Whilst many of us live in absolute food security, many around the world are sadly not so lucky.
Urban farming could offer a genuinely viable solution to this problem. New research from the University of Sheffield shows that growing fruit and vegetables in just 10 per cent of a city’s gardens and other urban green spaces could provide 15 per cent of the local population with all the fresh fruit and vegetables they need. Modern hydroponics systems, agricultural techniques and renewable energy solutions mean that growing fresh produce in cities is easier and more energy-efficient than ever. The benefits of urban agriculture are potentially massive. Locally grown food means less carbon footprint from travel and packaging, more control over the quality of the produce, and makes affordable healthy food available to those who live in wealthy and non-wealthy areas alike, increasing equity between rich and poor neighbourhoods. With the correct funding and support, your future avocado on toast may come from the Taff Embankment instead of flying halfway round the world.