How can we heal our relationship with food in the age of artificial food? In response to the crises in our food system we are witnessing the rise of technological solutions that aim to replace animal products and other food staples with lab-grown alternatives.
Artificial food advocates are reiterating the old and failed rhetoric that industrial agriculture is essential to feed the world. Real, nutrient-rich food is gradually disappearing, while the dominant industrial agricultural model is causing an increase in chronic diseases and exacerbating climate change.
The notion that high-tech, “farm free” lab food is a viable solution to the food crisis is simply a continuation of the same mechanistic mindset which has brought us to where we are today – the idea that we are separate from and outside of nature.
Industrial food systems have reduced food to a commodity, to “stuff” that can then be constituted in the lab. In the process both the planet’s health and our health has been nearly destroyed.
Industrial agriculture is re-inventing its future based on “fake farming” with “fake food”, with chemicals and GMOs, surveillance drones and spyware. Farming without farmers, farming without biodiversity, farming without soil, is the vision of those who have already brought us to the brink of catastrophe.
This is why artificial meat, invested in by the giant tycoons of factory farming, are not viable alternatives. They are just additional sources of profit for the same players and take political power away from regenerative farmers and local communities.
These modes deny the essential symbiotic relationships between humans, plants, animals and microorganisms and, in turn, deny their potential to maintain and regenerate the web of life. Food is the web of life and we cannot separate food from life. Similarly, we cannot separate ourselves from the Earth.
Solutions to our global crises already exist and they come from building cultures of interconnection and regeneration, as well as healing our relationships with food, nature and community. We need to become aware of the connections that hold the opportunity to regenerate the earth, our health, our food economies and food cultures through a real agriculture that cares for the earth and for people. Real food is not created in a laboratory, but comes from biodiverse farms that take care of the land by embracing a regenerative agriculture model.
We must therefore work actively to renew and regenerate the Planet by participating in ecological processes of reciprocity and restoring biodiversity. For this to happen, the act of eating must once again become an ecological act, so that the false solutions proposed by the advocates of artificial food, which do nothing to counter the profit-driven agri-food industry, do not create further crises.
Dr Vandana Shiva, President of Navdanya International
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