Nestled somewhere in the decade before mid-century is an important question. What are we going to eat? Its an easy enough question but, as often happens, the easiest of questions are the hardest to answer.
Our food future doesn’t look like our food history. We currently use about 38% of the world’s land and 70% of its water for our current terrestrial agriculture. With population and demographic changes coming fast upon us, we need to double our food production sometime in the 2040s. This is where things become dicey-neither 38% nor 70% can be doubled.
To meet future demands agricultural practices must improve continuously. We must do more with less; greater productivity needs to be accompanied by ever greater sustainability. However, improving existing systems while necessary isn’t sufficient. Novel and discontinuous changes in agriculture are also required.
A promising contributor to our food future is aquaculture. Simply put, aquaculture is agriculture where plants and animals are raised in and on water.
Though its potential productivity is stunning it remains a bit mysterious. Whether you walk by a community garden in Brooklyn, drive by corn field in Iowa or an apple orchard in Washington, almost all of us have seen some sort of terrestrial agriculture. Only a few of us have seen a salmon, kelp or oyster farm. Aquaculture happens “out there” somewhere and because it mostly happens under the surface it’s invisible.
Over the next few weeks, I will describe some of the history, current practice, promise and challenges of aquaculture. I find aquaculture fascinating and I look forward to sharing a bit about it with you.
©2016 Scott Nichols