Urban farming “is growing or producing food in a city or heavily populated town or municipality”. It is an emerging phenomenon that is considered to be a part of the solution to the environmental crises that plague modern anthropocentric Earth.
In July, I wrote an article about urban farms – with a special focus on Paris, which is home to one of the largest. My main argument in support of them was their decreased carbon footprint due to the reduction in air miles and transportation required to get produce from farm to consumer. In addition, I argued that an increasing population drives the need to change how we eat and from where we get our food.
If everyone adopted the same consumption habits that we have here in the UK we would need 2.4 Earths
I now believe that it is in fact our consumption habits and consumerism, in the Global North, that drive environmental destruction and not population. Of course, our world can only hold a certain amount of living organisms because it is finite. It is undeniable that a certain percentage of the global human population – concentrated in the West –is consuming excessive amounts of resources.
If everyone adopted the same consumption habits that we have here in the UK we would need 2.4 Earths. It is consumption patterns, and not population, which causes problems. Urban farms could prove to be a way to make our consumption more sustainable and subsistence-like, thereby reducing industrialised nations’ eco-footprint.
Capitalism has created a divide between production and consumption in ‘economically developed’ countries. In other words, instead of eating what we produce, we rely on farmers to sell their produce on the market. This separation of producer and consumer leads to wastage; capitalist businesses prioritise the generation of money, which leads to mass production and in turn, an excess of food on the market.
The demand for produce is unpredictable and varies; this can result in farmers overestimating demand
Sadly, 3.6 million tonnes of food is wasted in the first stages of the production. This is because supermarkets only accept produce that meets certain standards. Additionally, the demand for produce is unpredictable and varies; this can result in farmers overestimating demand and producing excessive supply.
It is clear that a way to reduce food waste is to bridge the gap between producer and consumer. Urban farming is this bridge. It provides a means by which urban dwellers can go green and reduce their reliance on the market economy.
Changing our behaviour will result in companies feeling obliged to adjust to meet our demands
Besides reducing individuals’ food wastage and consumption levels, distancing ourselves from capitalist tendencies will provoke a wider change from the top. For a company like Nestlé to reform their practices (such as diverting water resources from populations), grass-root actions such as urban farming are essential. Enterprises work on the basis of demand: changing our behaviour will result in companies feeling obliged to adjust to meet our demands.
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