As announced, here are some notes on the Food and The City expert meeting held at the Amsterdam’s Academy of Architecture.
Our purpose was to collect ideas and data on the impact of food production on the environment and society, and to provide possible strategies to overcome the ongoing food crisis for VOLUME’s issue on Sustainability.
Three different models and ways of thinking the present and the future of agriculture were confronted, but some initial points were shared among our guests:
Peter Smeets from Wageningen University presented data and future projection on agricultural markets and techniques, showing advanced technologies able to reduce energy and chemical inputs, improving yields and profitability of agriculture enterprises. Food production, especially high added value crops, should be integrated in the metropolitan areas, taking advantage from transporation, cognitive and technological networks. Forms of international horizontal and vertical labour division are welcome in this model, taking advantage of comparative production costs.
On the contrary, artist and designer Debra Solomon criticized this position, claiming that hi-tech developments require a further centralization of the food industry in few, big corporations, threatening the delicate balance of local food systems and expropriating communities from their right to food sovreignity.
For this reason, she advocates the development of light technologies designed around communities, seeking integration with other urban activities.
Architect Jago van Bergen, presented a totally different approach.
A future crisis scenario – the rising sea level and the salinization of agricultural land in the Randstad area – is taken as an opportunity to re-think agricultural production, giving the possibility to design for the first time a true, genuine “Dutch cuisine”, generated by the specificities of the Randstad territory.
Contributions from Debra Solomon, Jago van Bergen and from the Alterra department of Wageningen Universities will be featured in VOLUME 18.