Week 5: Food and Agriculture

The focus of our course this week revolves around food and agriculture. A leader in the open source agriculture sector is the program Growing Innovation. Growing Innovation, started by Rural Advancement Foundation International and Farm Hack as a Kickstarter, is “an online library of agricultural innovations developed by farmers to create a book celebrating their ingenuity.” (Growing Innovation) It is a project that documents new and groundbreaking sustainable methods by farmers. The library will include detailed plans of blueprints and budgets that are highly adaptable to most farming plots. The goal of this open source site is to provide farmers with substantial knowledge on how to successfully and efficiently grow their own food. Many supermarkets such as Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods will provide healthy organic foods, however, many of their goods have been picked days or even weeks before arriving to the market. 80% of the nutritional value disappears within two weeks as vegetables age and dehydrate. Though kale and broccoli for instance, among other vegetables, are very healthy, if they are aged for too long, the vegetables provide little benefit to us. Transportation of foods across the world has also become a large part of the food industry. In the US, we have become accustomed to being provided year-round foods that only bloom during certain periods in our country. This means that these products must be shipped from the southern hemisphere during off-seasons. With the development of quick transportation, foods such as avocados or mangoes can be sold in the US prior to their rotting. Though this seems like an incredible luxury, the transportation of millions of pounds of food each year have had drastic impacts on climate change due to the energy it requires for travel. With the implementation of open source local farming, we could significantly reduce emissions, while providing ourselves with much healthier products. Though we might lose the year-round fruits and vegetables, we will be in a much better place in the long run.


Companies like Cargill and Monsanto have taken over the food industry. Cargill now touches almost every piece of food that we eat since they have operations in every aspect of food around the world. From energy to pharmaceuticals to food production, Cargill has created an evasive presence through IP. Monsanto has also played a huge role in the use of IP to further their profits. Monsanto began genetically modifying soybeans, however, they have shifted into many fields. For example, they began licensing their modified cotton to farmers in India, promising the benefits of drug resistance. However, the rural farmers quickly began to fall back on their payments and were unable to pay for the cost of the seeds. Many of the poorer farmers committed suicide due their heavy load of debt. Though IP has been extremely beneficial in many ways, especially in the food industry, it can easily be seen the drastic negative effects of its use.

Open source agriculture is the future of the farming industry. Through the transfer of knowledge provided by open source, any person can become an efficient farmer. With a growing shift to local growth, transportation costs are diminishing, and people are eating healthier and healthier. In a world that is becoming exponentially obese, the importance of health is critical. I believe that open source farming could provide an end to many of our worlds current problems.


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