Go To Catalyst Inc

Queen’s University Hypermodal project reveals the inefficiencies of your dinner table

 

A project at Queen’s University Masters of Architecture recently reviewed the mobility, and inefficiences, of the global food-on-demand system.

This project focused on transportation, using food as a representative commodity. It studied the contents of a dinner table food in Leitrim, Ireland and the hook of Holland.

“Leitrim is struggling agriculturally – it’s a very wet environment,” said Sarah Wright, one of the students central to the project. There were 13 students involved, in total.

Conversely, Holland – via a vast system of greenhouses – has become one of the world’s biggest food producers. If you have a tomato in your fridge, it’s likely to have come from Holland. The fascinating BBC Radio4 Programme, “Cheap and Plentiful – The Global Farm” is examining the meteoric rise of Holland’s farming activity.

“We compared the two places – looking at what their energy levels are – whether they use renewable or non-renewable energy. What their transportation systems are, and whether hyper-intensive farming has been good for Holland,” said Sarah.

“Leitrim is not very developed – it’s a postcard landscape for tourism,” she said.

The group looked at everything on your dinner table – even non-edible items. Sarah explained, “One example was a 26 piece IKEA cutlery set. Looking at how it came to being, the steel was dug in China, the product was processed in China, packaged and branded with IKEA label via a distribution centre in Germany and then shipped onto Dublin – it was a long journey from raw material to table.”

Sarah points out that the lifespan of an object is important, as well. Food is a fast-moving good, gone as soon as you eat it. Cutlery is a long lifespan product.

Beef has long been flagged as being an inefficient way to feed people, in terms of inputs/outputs, explained in this previous TechWatch article. Sarah pointed to some of the numbers why: “Steak would have only a two-hour radius of where it could be shipped at ambient temperature. A longer journey requires cool freight – using a huge amount of energy.”

How far it goes, how much energy goes into making it, what resources are expended to ship it, and what are the gains on a human level (in terms of protein and vitamins) – all of these factors were studied. 

The conclusions?

The group built this website with some of its findings.

Sarah said, “We found that although the Netherlands does a great job of intensifying farming, it has created a world where we’re all dependent on them, while local farming is dying out.”

She said, “Local farms could compete by using mobility technology effectively – more drones, magnetic levitation trains and automation of the farming itself.”

comments powered by Disqus

Search

TECHWATCH mailing list

* indicates required

Categories:

Year

What would you do with a degree in self-driving cars?
Transport News
 Deloitte ranks 18 global cities as the world’s best mobility systems
Transport News
Can smart toys make smart kids?

Can smart toys make smart kids?

added Monday, December 10 2018

Smart toys News