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Going Hungry

Author: Dennis Lee

Growing food insecurity and potential technological solutions.

In 2015, the UN released the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. In this document, 17 key goals were outlined to help guide the world to an equitable and prosperous future. These goals were what world leaders and leading NGOs considered necessary for global survival and prosperity. The second section of the goals focused on ending hunger, signaling how important this is for the future of the planet. 

But what is Food Security? And what has that got to do with ending hunger? 

Food insecurity (note the in) is the lack of diet diversity, reduced food intake, or both. Food security, conversely, is when there is adequate diet diversity and food intake. 

Globally, 690M people are estimated to be hungry and roughly 2B people were affected by moderate or severe levels of food insecurity in 2019. COVID-19 is expected to increase the number of people experiencing food insecurity by an estimated 83M-132M people. 

While food insecurity remains a global challenge affecting resource-poor nations, resource-rich countries, like Canada and the United States are also adversely affected by food insecurity. 

As recently as 2016, 2 in 5 Canadian undergraduate students had experienced food insecurity due to rising costs and expenses relating to their schooling. This disparity is even more dramatic when it comes to other under-served groups like on-reserve First Nations where more than half of households experience food insecurity.

Combating food insecurity is a complex challenge. However, one key aspect of food insecurity we can manage is food cost. 

Costs associated with conventional farming include land, labor, water, and energy. Technologies like vertical farming and hydroponic farming present solutions that can significantly reduce costs and help resource-poor communities provide locally grown produce. One of our goals at Just Vertical is to reduce food security by normalizing the use of these agricultural practices through increased visibility and accessibility. And you can help be part of the solution. 

Innovative hydroponic units, like the AEVA and EVE, can be easily installed and operated in just about any household. Hydroponics can save up to 99% of water usage compared to traditional farming. Vertical farming also drastically reduces land requirements per unit of produce.

Examples of community based hydroponic farming fighting food insecurity are growing right in our backyard. In response to logistical difficulties due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Sheshegwaning First Nation purchased a container farm that utilized hydroponics and vertical farming technology. Enabling communities to grow fresh produce all year round empowers these communities, particularly in areas with dramatic weather conditions such as Canada in the winter. 

Though vertical farming and hydroponics cannot solve the problem of food insecurity alone, the technology is essential in reducing food insecurity. With an improvement in technology and a greater understanding of the effectiveness of vertical farming, these techniques to growing can help drive down costs, empower communities, and provide us all with sustainably grown produce year-round.


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