Back to the Future Farming

It wasn't so long ago, that almost everybody was responsible in some way for food production. Canada and the United States were founded upon the principle of the family farm. Settlers moved here and grew their own food, and harvested their own crops.

When the age of industrialization came upon the scene, it wasn't economical to grow your own food. You could make more money working in the factory, and pay someone to grow it for you. Farms evolved from small family farms to larger commercial farms, and finally to huge agri-businesses who produce food on a mass scale using pesticides, chemicals, genetic manipulation, irrigation, and other resource-hungry methods that in the long run, are unsustainable.

As a further consequence, the environment is being degraded by these practices as well as our health. We saw what DDT did to the bird population in the 1960's. They were the canaries in the mine, so to speak. And what we are doing to ourselves is far worse than how we wreaked pollution havoc on the birds.

Of course, the big agri-businesses will tell you that they are humanitarians of the finest kind, and they have all of the answers to feeding a burgeoning human population that cannot sustain itself without them. Of course, this is bull.

So what I see, is back to farming in the future. Why buy chemically poisoned food, or highly expensive organic food of dubious origin, when technology will allow to grow your own.
Our houses, habitats and living spaces have evolved to accommodate cable TV, internet, air conditioning, heating, smart house remote controls and other technology advances. There is no reason why our houses cannot evolve to accommodate food production as well, with the judicious use of technology.

It has been proven that buildings can sustain living plants. I have seen many plant walls in restaurants and public spaces. Houses should have them too, instead of just flowers. These plant walls remove carbon dioxide and other impurities in the air, regulate humidity and generate oxygen. And there is no reason why you can't have a technology solution to automatically water these plants using "gray water" -- water used to wash your hands, but doesn't have chemicals or sewage in it.

Let's take this concepts of plants in the house one step further. There is no reason why the whole house cannot be optimized by technology to produce food. There is plenty of space both inside and outside the house that is just sitting idle now.

For example, one of the Fairmont Hotels in Canada uses its roof space to grow herbs for their restaurant and they save $30,000 a year by doing so.

This makes the building incredibly green, both literally and figuratively.

By growing our own food, we can control the nutrients and the purity of the food entering our body. We can call upon technology to take care of the mundane tasks like watering and seeing that the plants get the appropriate amount of light. In the indoor environment, there are no pests. The whole concept would create a natural fertilizer industry (made by fermenting food scraps, etc), as well as other niche manufacturing jobs.

By why stop at plants when it comes to producing food. Yesterday on television, they profiled a lawyer in Washington DC who has a very small backyard. She wanted to contribute to the greening of the planet and to the assurance of the domestic food supply. She couldn't do anything about global warming, or greenhouse gases, but she could contribute by raising bees. Bees have been decimated in recent years by pests, weather and disease. Bees pollinate the flowers that produce our food, and if we lose the bees, our food production will cease and there will be mass starvation. The answer lies in a small group of activists who are raising bees in their backyards and on their condo balconies to insure food supplies.

We have also witnessed a boom in raising chickens in an urban environment. But let's face it. The average person is not capable of chopping the head off a chicken. It isn't a particularly appetizing task. I grew up on a farm, and I had to do this, but most people couldn't. Once again we call technology and robotics to the rescue.

You set the above machine up in your closet, clamp your chicken in, and close the door. Then you flip the switch. Voila -- soon you will have Chicken Kiev.

I really do believe that we will see a resurgence of the family farm -- right in our own living rooms.

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