South Australia becomes a world leader in hyper resilient food systems by implementing novel food production technologies and strategies
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED), a project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Large NGO (over 50 employees)
Website of Legally Registered Entity
http://saveourplanet.org/ and https://allfed.info/
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
South Australia (SA), specifically the temperate region of South Australia - located in the South and South East of the state.
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Ross, an ALLFED team member, was born in Adelaide, SA and lived there until his mid 20’s. He remembers the abundant and diverse high-quality SA produce available at the Central Markets. Since beginning work at ALLFED Ross has grown concerned about the vulnerability of SA’s current food system to a rapidly changing climate and the risk of catastrophes (loss of pollinators, severe drought, bushfires, crop diseases) causing breadbasket failures. The current drought and unprecedented fire season afflicting Australia including SA and its effect on the region's food production highlight the need to develop resilient restorative food systems capable of adapting to a rapidly changing environment.
Luke Spejic is a SA local and researcher at the University of Adelaide. Luke’s work in sustainable food system policy makes him view South Australia’s food future through a critical lens, desiring to create a future for SA’s food system that is resilient to a changing climate.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
A Map of South and South Eastern South Australia, The darker green area is the temperate region were the vast majority of the states' food production takes place home to approximately 1.7 million residents.
The Temperate Region of South Australia contains the majority of the states' 1.7 million people of which 1.3 million reside in the states capital Adelaide. The region has a Mediterranean climate with long hot dry summers with limited rainfall and cool wet winters. Prime growing regions have water availability to irrigate crops.
The Adelaide hills possess cooler climate well suited to fruit production and wine making. The Riverland and Murrayland are suited to horticulture with suitable soil composition and access to irrigation from the River Murray. The Limestone coast has prime grazing land and winemaking while the Eyre peninsula has large expanses of land suited to grain production. Kangaroo Island has a world-renowned bee stock which has recently been decimated during the 2020 fire season. Major fisheries exist along the coast including Southern Bluefin Tuna.
SA has a western society descended from British settlers, various waves of immigrants from Europe and Southeast Asia and South Asia have immigrated to SA creating a multicultural identity. This identity is most obvious in Adelaide where the majority of immigrants settled. The multicultural identity combined with a wide range of food available creates a strong food culture; major influences include Germany, Greece, Italy, Vietnam, India, and Thailand. SA suffers from common diet-related issues for a western society such as excesses of processed food and red meat consumption.
SA is stable politically with a strong sense of community. Recent bushfires have exemplified this spirit with thousands volunteering time to fight fires (the country fire service is a volunteer organization) or aiding the bushfire effort in other ways such as rebuilding burnt fences, houses, saving injured wildlife, etc. Recent drought and fire have shifted community and political conversation toward the need to adapt to an increasingly unpredictable climate, declining environment, and a greater risk of catastrophes affecting food production which is a major economic driver for the region. The state has a green reputation, indeed SA currently produces 50% of energy through renewables, and its willingness to implement new technologies and rapidly changing climate makes it a potential candidate to trial new resilient food production technologies and systems. Technologies and strategies that prove effective in SA would likely be valuable in adapting other food systems around the world.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
SA’s food system is currently productive and valuable but vulnerable. Unpredictable rainfall - common drought and fragile soils make agriculture volatile. Limited water available from the Murray Darling Basin for key food production areas of the Riverland and Murrayland, limits irrigation potential and often leads to policy disputes with upstream states. Excessive irrigation drawn from the Murray has caused algal blooms and corresponding fish die-offs which is a major environmental issue. These environmental issues will worsen by 2050 with traditional food production even more marginal, with less water, further degraded soils, and population growth to ~2 million by 2041. This population will require greater food production requiring more land and/or more efficient food production systems. Many water security and soil issues are increased by ill-suited farming practices derived from a British farming cultural identity, and perpetuated by corresponding dietary preferences. This is made worse by current transitions of climate, rainfall is predicted to decrease across the state by 5 - 15%, making previously cropable regions no longer suited to certain crops.
Rural farming areas tend to have conservative political views, recent conservative party policy is weak on climate change adaptation. Reimagining cultural identities and dietary preferences to ones better suited to the environment is a key challenge for 2020 and 2050. Another challenge is creating policy on natural resources management (water, land, biomass) to be more integrated (acknowledging overall systems) and long termist (including future generations in value calculations).
A 2020 Nature Food study highlighted the shifts in food production and land use after a “climate tipping point” represented by the collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Ritchie et. al, 2020). A climate tipping point like this would reduce rainfall causing a rapid reduction in arable land. This emphasizes the need for food security solutions that can be rapidly deployed and a society that is prepared for such outcomes.
The major challenge for 2050 is creating technologies, policies and economic incentives that allow a robust and resilient food system to develop. Such a food system would be capable of adapting to a rapidly changing environment with longer hotter summers, less rainfall and increased prevalence of regional catastrophes (crop disease, loss of pollinators, catastrophic bushfires, etc.). Such catastrophes are already happening in 2020: SA’s and Australia's 2020 fire season has devastated prime winegrowing, agricultural, horticulture and pastoral land with key grazing areas losing up to 10% of animals, some wine-producing areas losing 30% of vines and Kangaroo Island, which possesses a world-renowned Ligurian bee population, losing up to 1000 of 4000 beehives.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Our vision for 2050 will adapt food production to a changing climate and increase the resilience of SA's food system to catastrophes while providing people with a personalized and balanced diet.
Resilient food production: the ability to resist food shocks, recover food production capacity and reorient food system following a food shock will be created by augmenting SA’s current food system with Alternative Foods (foods not requiring traditional agricultural inputs to produce) suitable to SA’s natural resources, industrial infrastructure, and geography. Tailored strategies to deploy alternative foods during catastrophes will be developed alongside assets.
Adaptable supply systems will reduce capital expenditure and overheads required to create and maintain resilient food production for SA. Key components include: Flexible Alternative Food infrastructure, which can create other useful products when not needed for food production (see flexible biorefinery); Convertible alternative foods, plans to rapidly switch existing infrastructure to food production (see cellulosic sugar production, convertible breweries) and rapidly deployed Alternative Food, Alternative Foods that have low maintenance and are rapidly deployable (see seaweed production).
Intelligent nutrition assignment systems: By mapping nutritional content of individual components of the food system (both traditional food and excess axillary Alternative Food production capacity) suitable combinations of traditional and alternative foods can be created such that nutritional requirements are met normally and during food shocks. The accuracy of these nutritional requirements and personalization of diets for maximum efficiency and health is informed by nutritional data.
Integrated food system management strategy: developing a detailed understanding of the inputs, outputs, and interactions within the food system allows the systems to be strategically adapted to maintain output during and after catastrophes. A special department manages the system to maximize efficiency and adds extra layers of redundancy during worsening disasters by implementing additional alternative foods.
Community Education and regionalized technology adaptation: Educating the community on how resilient food systems function and how they protect against food production risk allows the value of such systems to be understood by community members increasing community by in. Education on such systems allows local knowledge to be applied to the innovation of technologies and systems to maximize their efficiency within the region.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
ALLFED's vision for 2050 South Australia will adapt SA’s food production to a changing climate and increase the resilience of food systems to catastrophes, providing people with suitable nutrition no matter how large an agricultural shortfall. This will be achieved through resilient food production, adaptable supply systems, intelligent nutritional assignment systems, integrated food systems, community education, and resource management strategies.
Internet-of-Things enabled smart farms will grow food through improved traditional agriculture while a network of highly resilient alternative food production is maintained at a baseline level. Flexible or adaptable components of this network such as biorefineries and paper mills will create other economically useful products until needed for emergency food production. Live updates of crop health and projections for this and future harvests inform the city’s food security network, a team that ensures the city’s citizens never go hungry. The food security network monitors food production and input/output resource streams utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) powered projections to preemptively adapt the SA food supply. When global yields are poor due to severe or overlapping food shocks, auxiliary alternative food production mechanisms such as flexible pulp and paper mills, seaweed production and methane digesting bacteria facilities are initiated to meet projected shortages. These systems are also switched on when food shocks are projected in nearby regions when demand is high to cushion food shortages.
A strong sense of community has emerged after SA survived and prospered through various levels of food production loss, with citizens remaining adequately fed throughout.
Optimizing of land management and employing alternative food production technologies has allowed large areas of land to remain as native vegetation and now marginal land to be returned to natural vegetation despite major population growth.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
ALLFED’s vision focuses on developing food system resilience to catastrophes. This is achieved through the research and development of a toolkit of Alternative Foods (food production methods not requiring traditional agriculture inputs) and associated deployment strategies. A current goal of ALLFED is to create a Fast Starter, a city/region that would be able to respond quickly after the onset of extreme weather events, crop disease, pollinator loss, or more extreme agricultural shortfalls such as nuclear winter. The challenges outlined above have major overlap with the goals of a Fast Starter, making SA an interesting case study for ALLFED in developing a Fast Starter. As such, we envision 2050 SA as a fully prepared Fast Starter region. Key components of 2050 Fast Starter SA which address the 2050 SA food system challenges are described below:
The food systems map (https://kumu.io/rosstieman/allfed-system-vision-prize-2050-cb6f) highlighted some tensions within the system, such as the need to convert other industries to food production during catastrophes, reducing economic output, These tensions should correct eventually as converted infrastructure produces food which would have an increased value during food shortages.
In 2050 SA, increasing climate change and a growing understanding of the risk of being unprepared for food catastrophes (loss of pollinators, crop disease, fire etc.) has lead to a shift in the cultural zeitgeist. Long-termist thinking (taking into account the possible futures that will occur if humanity continues for at least hundreds of years) is now common practice placing future generations into value calculations that inform policy and economic decisions including food resilience. A great desire to be aware of these risks to the food system exists within the community, spawning lively debates about food policy and potential innovations to the food system. The community has a good understanding of how their food system works and why the resilience of the system is important. Overall a feeling of hopeful preparedness exists in the community allowing people to live happily knowing they have been proactive in their future food security.
Policymakers incorporate a long-termist mindset when assessing the economic value of implementing resilient food systems. SA has set itself up as a Fast Starter and has adopted many of the food resilience strategies researched by ALLFED. A ‘Resilient Food Systems’ Department oversees the region's food system resilience; this includes continual improvement of traditional food production along with alternative food technologies (discussed in the technology section). Various metrics are used to quantify the current robustness of the food system. SA's robust food system required foreplanning and investment to implement all the component technologies and overhaul the system structure. This was able to be achieved through a series of incentives from the regional government increasing research and development of alternative foods at universities and through private partnerships. The research in this field continues, yielding many further alternative food technologies and insights into food systems resilience; such research is utilized and adapted to other regions of the world strengthening global food resilience.
IoT and advanced sensors network ‘smart farms’ into an integrated food system, this system incorporates blockchain technology and third-party validation to remain secure to cyber threats. Overall this has greatly increased efficiency of the various aspects of food production required in getting food from the producer to the table. Key alternative food production technologies have also been implemented in the 2050 food system. This required building flexible food production infrastructure (biorefineries) and developing strategies to retrofit existing industry infrastructure such as converting pulp and paper mills to cellulosic sugar production during catastrophes. The flexible infrastructure creates many economically viable products when not being used for food production. Auxiliary seaweed production capacity is maintained for when catastrophes strike.
Seaweed growth is extremely quick and thus can compensate for other food losses quickly. Seaweed has grown into a common component of the human/animal diet often used as additions to other staples such as flour to increase nutritional content without changing the flavour. Seaweed is also used as fodder for livestock reducing fodder requirements also livestock methane production, a significant contributor to greenhouse gases. Seaweed farming is becoming more mainstream due to huge areas of premium growing ocean and large export markets, this has reduced resilience in this component of the food system. To mitigate this loss in resilience, strategies, and resources to rapidly begin production of a newly discovered strain of high-efficiency single protein have been developed.
The various components of this highly networked food system utilize IoT technologies, which aid in the management and efficiency of the food system. There is potential for disruption of the system through ‘hacking’ components of the system that could disrupt food production reducing resilience. Research into the cybersecurity risks of an IoT powered food system and has identified many potential cyber threats along with strategies and technologies to counteract them. Utilization of blockchain technologies for data storage and logistics management protects information through encryption and maintains a distributed ledger to verify transactions, while third-party validation of individual business within the food production network has assured compliance to cybersecurity best practices.
Alternative food technologies in more detail:
Cellulosic Sugars: Pulp and paper mills could be retrofitted in ~5 months to create large quantities of cellulosic sugars from agricultural and forestry residues.
Flexible Biorefineries: Can be used to create various value add biological products through processes such as fermentation, enzymatic degradation or alteration; examples include biofuels or bioplastics. Biorefineries can be switched to food production such as cellulosic sugar during catastrophes.
Seaweed production: seaweed is a fast-growing food source that does not require traditional agriculture inputs such as water and arable land. Seaweed farming is extremely low tech requiring low capital to implement. Seaweed is also fast-growing, capable of doubling its biomass in 1 week. Seaweed also removes excess nutrients in coastal water bioremediating environmental damage caused by eutrophication.
The wide-scale implementation of Alternative Food technologies into the improved traditional food production systems has created a system capable of rapidly adapting to environmental catastrophes affecting food production to ensure nutritional requirements are met for citizens. The resilience and diversity of the food system has prevented individual components from being over-utilized even during significant stresses. This has allowed fisheries to remain constant and in some places recover. Implementation of seaweed farming has helped prevent eutrophication of estuaries near the Murray mouth, improving ocean health.
Highly individualized diets informed by personalized health data (Genomic and Microbiomic) maximize health and food efficiency. Citizens receive personalized food recommendations through a smart app, which utilizes real-time tracking of food to inform decisions according to food availability. Individual nutritional components within recommended diets are flexible allowing choice when there is excess food but switching to more efficient nutrition distribution when food shocks occur. Efficiency and redundancy of the food system provide a healthy diet that is affordable for all raising citizens raising many out of food insecurity.
Improved traditional food production utilizes IoT to streamline food production and distribution which increases the efficiency of the food system. Auxiliary alternative foods decrease the vulnerability of the food system to price fluctuations as supply can be kept relatively constant. In periods of regional excess and external region shortages, auxiliary food production capacity within the SA region can be switched on to produce extra food for export, making SA a buffer for food shocks in the larger food networks. The increased resilience of SA’s food system and ability to keep food production constant has had a significant effect on the overall food security of the Asia - Pacific region as 40% of Australia’s food exports go to Asia.
The high level of food system resilience also ensures that some level of food is available to the region in severe catastrophes (nuclear winter, asteroid impact, supervolcano) and corresponding extreme food shocks. Proper preparation could even enable feeding everyone in these catastrophes as shown in ‘feeding everyone no matter what’ (Denkeberger & Pearce, 2014).
Overall the highly integrated food system recaptures various byproducts and waste streams which are reinjected as feedstocks for other food production methods (see Calysta, Solein process, seaweed production removing excess nutrients runoff). This reduces issues of waste management and corresponding environmental issues while reducing the cost of production.
South Australia will be transformed by 2050 into a food secure ecosystem that is the envy of the world. After developing novel resilience measures and technologies, Adelaide’s Food Security Department is called on from around the world to export its knowledge of building and maintaining a resilient and integrated food system.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?
Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.
We identified expanded applications of technologies in the initial application, such as high-tech protein supplements like Single-Celled Protein (SCP). Our assumption suggested that these foods were limited to be deployed during disasters when traditional agriculture wasn't viable, however, drivers and signals such as rethink x’s precision fermentation roadmap and our internal collaboration with NASA exploring SCP demonstrated these technologies are viable for building resilience as well as responding to catastrophes.
Feasibility calculations for SCP, Seaweed and Agricultural Residue Protein in SA, returned favorable results confirming the potential for application.
Smallholders and large farming bodies thought about resilience on different timescales, making barriers to implementing more resilient practices.
In response to feedback, we distilled our goal to: Taking Australia out of the bottom 50% of nations for food resilience and making it number 1 by 2050.
Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).
Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.
The team was expanded to include four mid-20s Adelaide based students involved in SA food system. They catalysed interactions with local actors and contributed opinions, research and writing to the vision, improving the relevance to South australia.
Supply chain: We contacted a Delivery Planner at GrainCorp who discussed impacts of COVID 19 on business continuity and efforts to prevent further disruptions of supply to export activities.
Food Retail: Obtained email response to questions discussing challenges of COVID19 and business continuity measures.
Agribusiness: had a phone interview with a Livestock Agronomist at Bayer GROW covering what agricultural resilience meant personally, the economic priorities of farmers and the challenges for farmers to adapt new technologies/practices.
Government: The Chief Scientist of SA, Caroline McMillen commended us on the vision and relevance to SA providing a letter of support.
Policy: Dr Robert Glasser of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s 2019 and former special representative of the secretary-general for Disaster Risk Reduction emailed his support for the interesting and important mission of our organisation.
Academia: Links were formed with the Torrens Resilience Institute at Flinders University who showed support for vision offering desk space upon successful completion of the accelerator programme. We were also contacted by Marian Stuiver of Wageningen University & Research.
Food Tech: We spoke to C-suite executives from three major players in the Single-Celled Protein space by phone to discuss their potential involvement in the technology and knowledge incubator.
Food System Dialogue: Initiated organisation of a resilience themed Food System Dialogue (FSD) for June that will bring 50 food system actors from SA together to create actionable proposals to meet 2030 regional resilience goals. Proposals will be curated by Dr. David Nabbarro and published on the website.
What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.
Signals that influenced our vision:
1. Bushfires + COVID food disruption - Future filled with climate change and anthropic disasters, how do we live in this world
2. Preparing for the era of disasters - Dr. Glasser of ASPI - Implies a policy window is open to implement change in disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation in Australia and South Asia https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/ad-aspi/2019-03/SR%20135%20Preparing%20for%20the%20Era%20of%20Disasters.pdf?DWvHu1e1M0UMbiuK5_A8qhOlZJr1z0qD
3. Toby Ord - The Precipice showing the counterfactual world should we not be successful
4. Positive examples of preparedness for hope
The Future of Feed: Integrating Technologies to Decouple Feed Production from Environmental Impacts | Industrial Biotechnology - Shows novel combinations of food production technologies run off of geothermal energy creating 100x efficiency of land usage demonstrated that an algal feed for crops could be created that is carbon negative, 1000X less water intensive and arable land intensive than soybean production pesticide free and herbicide free. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ind.2019.29162.atz
Morgan Stanley built a resilient organisation through preparedness. After the 1993 attack on the World Trade Centre, senior management realised a change was needed given the symbolism the centre held. Installing micro-preparedness of vigilant fire drills would lead to all but 7 of Morgan Stanley's 2,700 South tower employees walking away with the lives https://hbr.org/2002/05/how-resilience-works
5. SA lifts ban on GM crops after 16 years - Demonstrates willingness for South Australia to utilize technology as means to meet increased food production requirements of the 21st century in a declining environment https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-04-28/south-australia-to-lift-gm-ban-after-16-years/12193730
6. COVID 19 significantly disrupted global supply chains and food production systems causing major food wastage: demonstrates how poorly prepared our food systems are for disruptions from global disasters https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/03/food-waste-insecurity-rising-amid-coronavirus-panic/
7. Australian Bushfires worst on record: This demonstrates what the future could be like if we do nothing to increase resilience of food systems to disasters.
8. Widespread decoupling of food production from land and water and protein can be designed from the bottom up using precision fermentation https://static1.squarespace.com/static/585c3439be65942f022bbf9b/t/5d7fe0e83d119516bfc0017e/1568661791363/RethinkX+Food+and+Agriculture+Report.pdf
9. Era of Disasters: Mainstream policy in Australia realising the importance of mitigating disasters to future of Australia https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/ad-aspi/2019-03/SR%20135%20Preparing%20for%20the%20Era%20of%20Disasters.pdf?DWvHu1e1M0UMbiuK5_A8qhOlZJr1z0qD
Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).
It is 6.30 am and Andrew has just awoken. He hits the shower and taps the option for breakfast to be prepared. He opts for a blueberry flavoured health shake. Whilst he dresses, this is being dispensed from the spout installed on the kitchen countertop. He grabs it to go and starts his commute. This equipment, now standard in all households across South Australia, is plumbed into a network of pipes around Adelaide that carry nutritionally complete liquid food that can be flavoured at the destination. The network was installed in case of disruptions to the supply chain, but most citizens take at least one of their meals a day purely for convenience.
When Andrew does want to spend time on food is when he can take time to savour it with loved ones, with Barbeques on the beach his favorite weekend activity.
Andrew works as a Food System Monitor at Adelaide’s world renowned Resilient and Adaptable foods Centre, which he loves. The first thing he notices as he walks into the office is that something seems off. He can’t quite tell why at first. Then he sees it - there’s been seismic activity off the coast of Indonesia. He convenes a holo-conference with the monitors for each sub-continent. Andrew exclaims ‘this constitutes a Schedule1 response’, to agreement from all. After one clarification work begins immediately. Heads of flexible industry are contacted and their previous product switched to food production that does not require the sun, A public announcement switches government and citizens into response mode, and models consulted to look at how the flow of import/exports will be affected.
At 5pm, Andrew leaves the office, he hears on the news that the volcano Tambora has erupted spewing ash into the atmosphere as he expected. He heads for dinner safe in the knowledge that, unlike the last time Tambora erupted in 1815, the citizens of the world will eat are well prepared for the year ahead.
Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?
Adapting and improving traditional agriculture Widespread implementation of regenerative agricultural practices, decrease the detrimental impacts of farming such as soil degradation and biodiversity loss while improving productivity of viable agricultural land through worsening climate change such as a 15% reduction in precipitation. Complimentary use of precision agricultural techniques such as advanced remote sensing, intelligent farm management, and improved supply tracking through IOT has helped keep farming efficient and reduces the expansion of farmland.
Diversifying South Australia's food systems
Implementing novel Alternative Food production techniques has decoupled portions of SA’s food production from traditional agricultural inputs and has created major improvements in efficiency of land and water use, especially in relation to protein production. Seaweed, a nutrient-dense fast-growing food, is now a common feed ingredient for livestock and is also widely eaten by humans. Its expanding usage as feed helps reduce the considerable land requirements to feed cattle and sheep while drastically reducing methane expulsion and the resulting carbon footprint, it also has reduced eutrophication issues from fertilizer runoff at river mouths. Highly efficient Single-Celled Protein production has reduced reliance on livestock for protein production, while also providing an efficient way to feed livestock, decreasing overgrazing and associated environmental impacts. Ultimately such foods have reduced land and water utilization to more sustainable levels and allowed more land to be returned to nature. Decreased water usage allows opportunities for significant portions of water being used for agriculture to be returned to the Murray darling to improve water system health.
Regrowing native vegetation in large tracts of land no longer required for agriculture, specifically in marginal grazing areas above the Goyder line, has seen a great revival of natural systems. These revegetation projects prevent erosion and soil degradation while providing important ecological services and valuable carbon sequestration projects which have a high value on international carbon markets.
Resilient and Alternative foods: a path to decoupling production from traditional agricultural inputs Resilient foods such as Seaweed, Single Celled Protein (SCP) and cellulosic sugar (discussed in the technology section) are highly efficient production methods which decouple food production from land and water requirements. This decoupling makes them highly resilient food production techniques able to utilize low-cost alternative feedstocks to create high value add products. Alternative foods share the characteristics of resilient foods in also being decoupled from inputs that disasters or the climate might cause. The key difference is alternative foods are implementable in a major food shortfall scenario that needs a rapid response. Thus there is an equipoise between the proportion of resilient foods that are part of the system and the number of alternative foods that will be required in a disaster.
Resilient and Alternative foods in disasters. Resilient foods such as Single Celled Protein (SCP) and cellulosic sugar (discussed in the technology section) are capable of creating food through disasters such as extreme drought and super volcano eruptions (see tambora eruption in graphics). This means during disasters the pressure to over work land or over extract natural resources such as water to produce food is reduced decreasing potential ecological damage.
Circularity of Alternative Foods decreases requirements for fresh inputs derived from natural resources, reducing environmental impacts associated with obtaining inputs. Examples include: agricultural residue protein concentrate, which use leftover stems and leaves of agricultural crops to create a protein powder leaving cellulose rich waste. The protein powder can be eaten by animals or humans while the cellulose can be further processed in biorefineries to create sugars.
1 Rethinkx: food and agriculture
2 Meat: The Future A Roadmap for Delivering 21st-Century Protein
3 The Future of Feed: Integrating Technologies to Decouple Feed Production from Environmental Impacts
Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?
Diversity of food choices will be increased through utilization of a wide range of agricultural crops necessary for regenerative agriculture along with implementation of alternative foods. The diversity of food available coupled with personalised nutrition information will enable diets that are tailored to each individuals needs.
Seaweed for use as food directly or as feedstocks for microbial production will also aid in the reduced requirement for land as well as water, as a high nutrient food source seaweed has the potential to address nutrients deficiencies such as vitamin d and iodine, small amounts of seaweed could also be included in staples such as flour to increase nutrient content, nutrient composition could also be altered using Genetic modification to produce more useful nutrient combinations
Customizability of micro-level ingredients through synthetic biology and precision fermentation
Precision fermentation and other new synthetic biological capabilities enable highly customizable nutrient profiles for each through fermentation protocols and modification of fermenting organisms. Synthesis of ingredients reaches the point The food output can be incorporated into various food structures, yielding a wide range of food products. Personalised food choices incentivise for optimal health informed by nutrition databases allow individuals to select a variety for various health effects think microbe protein veggie dogs with high folate and omega 3 content.
The product is a powder containing around 65% protein which could be added to almost anything since it does not have a taste. It could be particularly suited to foods such as bread, pasta, plant-based meat and dairy, and as a protein supplement similar to whey protein shakes. The SCP has high protein completeness. Expect a nutritional value of about 5000 kcal/kg SCP.
The microbial food industry has a key advantage in its nascency over mature food production methods as it will improve over time, whereas livestock productivity is reaching its limits. The role of animal husbandry will largely be changed/disrupted as their products and constituent molecules and compounds become producible by cellular agriculture and precision fermentation
Intelligent nutrition assignment systems: By mapping and databasing nutritional content of individual components of the food system (both traditional food and Alternative Food production) suitable combinations of traditional and alternative foods can be created such that nutritional requirements are met normally and during food shocks. The accuracy of these nutritional requirements and personalization of diets for maximum efficiency and health is informed by nutritional data.
Within the large variety of foods that exist there will also be the ability to manipulate the form that foods takes. The melting pot of innovation around food technologies has developed several technologies that make food deesignable. An integrated food 3D printer and oven enables food to be created and cooked in any shape.
Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?
Transition to an advanced agricultural economy will allow food production capacity to be increased through climate change and the expected decrease in precipitation of 15%, resulting in higher output per individual and favourable unit economics. This has led to a variety of high paying skilled jobs in the alternative food technology ecosystem, roles range from process engineers that design and implement new SCP, LPC, flexible biorefinery facilities to technicians working in the plants. Various new startups that utilise alternative food inputs have spawned and use the most recent ingredients to create interesting new food products.
Resilient food production technology
Capturing the value of new innovative products that can meet various diet and nutritional needs along with the resilient methods that create them has been facilitated via alternative food incubators. Such incubators consist of prototyping infrastructure associated with industry-research collaborations, meritorious products and services can then be scaled with the assistance of resilient and response food accelerators. This complete environment has created a powerful SA based resilient and reponse foods technology ecosystem which employs many people. Being an early mover allowed SA to capture much value in this rapidly emerging industry.
Resilient food technology and knowledge startup ecosystem
South Australian environmental challenges and significant renewable energy resources make it the perfect place to trial next-generation food production technologies. Embracing the implementation of Alternative foods and combining this with industry and research partners, South Australia became a global leader in resilient and response foods technology and the associated implementation knowledge. Roles within this sector of the food system range from designing infrastructure for new food production methods such as bio refineries, to genetic engineering of highly efficient microbes and the associated production protocols, to creating programs for agricultural sensing, databasing and tracking systems. A whole sector of food production capabilities and knowledge has been created in the region which is highly exportable to other regions with similarly difficult agricultural resource limitations. These new jobs are technical and specialised allowing for significant pay.
Various workers have transitioned from the hollowed-out middle classes where jobs have moved overseas into resilient food production in the state. The agricultural sector is still strong especially in the South of the State below the Goyder line that has continued to move south.
Freed up land has allowed for significant carbon sequestration projects to occur either in tandem with traditional agriculture through regenerative practices/decreased stocking rates and through regrowing native vegetation trees etc. Larger native vegetation carbon sequestration projects are also common where former farming regions have been transitioned. This transition to carbon farming has allowed rural communities to continue and provide valuable income through carbon credits which are sold on global markets. Indigenous groups are involved in managing these projects including fire control, managing composition of the native vegetation and harvesting valuable native foods. 1
Increased emphasis has been put on maintaining food production skills through community capacity building a role of the resilience core groups. This has led to an increase in food production as a recreational activity, with various urban farm groups developing creating roles for. This has added another level of resilience to the food system by preventing enfeeblement of the population and losing the ability to grow food in traditional ways if the normal system is interrupted. knowledge, plant stocks and the ability to coordinate food production are all core roles of the workers that help run the urban food COOPs (part of the resilience core).
1 Which plants store more carbon in Australia: forests or grasses? | Australia's Chief Scientist
Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?
The culture in 2050 South Australia reflects the journey its citizens have taken over the 30 years between now. The paradigm shift of lockdown across most of the world forced every aspect of culture to adapt to being shared globally as a new norm. While in the early stages of its outbreak, COVID-19 spread not just a virus, but fear and anxiety. History remembered COVID-19 for the compassion it spread worldwide, the inter-continental partnerships that were formed and a dire need for better ways to have audio discussions online. Previously unconnected parts of the globe became a locality, with new communities forming online, global really did become local. These communities strengthened over time, breaking down previous hostilities and widening the moral circle of the Adelaide’s citizens through friendships formed sheltering from a common enemy. This was the first time humanity faced adversity that was both universal and global whilst being able to literally see the other’s point of view, due to video call. This spread compassion across the globe, making global inequality visceral and lived. Adelaide’s citizens could see their new and old friends and the situation they inhabited wherever they were in the world.
One property of the COVID-19 paradigm shift was particularly important – the speed at which ideas could be shared around the world. Whilst the internet of course predates COVID-19, the culture shift to online everything, changing working patterns in certain roles to align with other countries, and regular meet ups online meant that an idea suggested in Adelaide could be considered in Canberra, California, London, Belgium, Finland, Alaska, India, as this vision has, in a morning.
This global community was rocked by a philosophical shift originating from Australian philosopher Prof. Toby Ord in the twenties, who laid out a grand strategy for humanity to ensure that another global adversity doesn’t threaten our existence. His strategy begins with reaching existential security, a place where the risk of disasters like COVID-19 is low enough that we can reflect on humanity’s true purpose and reach that potential.
Bill gates highlighted that COVID-19 could be merely Pandemic 1 (Gates) and that . This opens the Overton window for preparedness for threats not just to our immune system, but all that threaten our food supply.
This period of public support and high profile examples of preparedness, coupled with ALLFED’s winning of the Rockefeller Food System’s vision prize 2050, fuels an era of laser-focused knowledge generation and technological innovation in South Australia to find resilient, robust and responsive foods and technologies to safeguard humanity from future food threats. This knowledge and technology ecosystem generates a culture of true experimentation in food, with inventors bounded only by the requirement to safeguard humanity.
By 2050, the culture around food in South Australia has been transformed, with each citizen having defined their role to play in the event of a major food shortfall, in a similar way that volunteer fighters choose their way to serve. Some will be prepared to make changes at work having prepared ahead, the flexible non-food industries able to switch to food production when needed. Council members can authorize piping networks to switch to food in case supply lines are disrupted.
In 2020, Australia represents a major exporter of food, but by 2050, this has expanded to include the resilient foods, technologies and policies that have been developed by Adelaide. The inventors, students, academics, producers, consumers, investors and politicians feel proud of their history developing the tools to ensure humanity’s survival and sleep soundly in the knowledge that they can look the largest threats to food security in the eye, knowing they have little fear anymore.
Creation and realisation of a resilient food system will require a change in culture and development of a community that values stability in an uncertain future. This will require education of the community on the value of being prepared for food production catastrophes. Self sufficiency of the region, as well as a culture that values a continued future
In 2050 the western Farming traditions initiated 10,000 years hence in Papua New Guinea that brought us forward into civilisation continue, but now hold an environmentally conscious role, acting as land stewardship carbon sequestration projects. This enables the continuation of rural communities through different land uses. These provide valued environmental utilities and are co-performed with indigenous individuals performing traditional back burning as well as harvesting native foods.
Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?
Transition to a 2050 Adelaide where no one goes hungry will require many advances in resilient foods, and associated technology systems that predict, model and respond to food shocks.
The establishment of a knowledge and technology incubation ecosystem will be crucial to transitioning to a safer food system. This setting will bring in actors from across the food system spectrum to collaborate and generate the; ideas, technologies, businesses and industries to work toward safeguarding humanity's future, whilst reducing the risks of development and feeding the world’s growing population.
Lifting of the GM crops in 2020 opened a new pathway for development in the agricultural sector creating a range of possibilities for the development of resilient crops. Existing advanced phenomic facilities with temperature and humidity controlled greenhouses, automated watering and test-bed areas will assess how crops can handle the environmental conditions of a given disaster. While wet chemistry and synthetic biology laboratories with bioreactors and cell culture systems can create the next breed of resilient foods. 1
A whole system resilience map of South Australia informed by a holistic ecological assessment of all factors that affect the resilience of the region will form the basis for advanced scenario planning. This software will simulate threats to the food system and offer insights into how further technologies can be developed to meet these challenges.
Digital agricultural services and systems will be further developed to enable integrative farm management and allow for improved yields, risk forecasting, performance benchmarking and greater coordination among smallholder farmers. 2,3
Regenerative agriculture is a key tool in the resilience toolkit. It increases soil capacity to retain moisture by increasing organic matter content, decreasing drought vulnerability. This carbon rich soil stores CO2 while increasing soil productivity. A promising crop that fits the regenerative agriculture paradigm is hemp, which improves soil quality via long tap root and is highly lucrative, producing hemp seeds and omega 3 oils.
Resilient foods are critical to ensuring populations can be fed throughout disasters. They are capable of maintaining food output either due to their independence from resources the disaster removes, such as drought resilient crops custom made for Australia that need little water, or other alternative foods that require no agricultural inputs at all, such as single-Celled Protein. Development of Response foods, those that can be scaled up quickly in the face of a food shortfall will also be needed.
Single-celled-protein is a powder similar to the protein shakes you know today, but has no taste, enabling it to be added to bread pasta, plant-based meat and dairy, with a nutritional value of ~5000kcal/kg.
SCP is produced from either Methane, or Hydrogen and Carbon Dioxide, decoupling production from agricultural inputs. When produced from hydrogen, SCP is 100 times more climate friendly than meat and uses 500 as little water. We estimate that fulfilling the entire protein demand of South Australia in a disaster could be achieved with under 300 MW power, consuming around 25% of the current electricity capacity at an initial Capital cost of under 660m AUD.
Cellulosic sugar is an emerging technology that can produce sugar from biomass, enabling forestry and agricultural residues to be converted into sugars that can be included into drinks, dietary fibres that promote healthy gut biomes and egg-replacement. These inputs are available in most conditions, making this a resilient food.
Agricultural residues themselves can be fed to livestock in the event of severe food shortages. In the event of a shock that blocked the sun such as Tambora, we calculated that using the protein from the residues from the top three crops by wet yield, wheat barley and Alfalfa in SA could sustain the livestock population for 324 days and then used to produce enough sugar to sustain the population’s caloric intake in a catastrophe for 7 years.
Not only new foods will be required for a resilient and sustainable south Australia in 2050, but associated technologies too. Keeping as much of the supply chain local will enable improved resilience, this includes the packaging, which will need to transition to a circular economy model. We envisage flexible infrastructure that can switch from producing one product to another on demand, or in response to disaster.
We foresee the transition to adaptable industries, like we are seeing with the suggestion of co-location and integration of the biorefinery model. Pulp & paper plants are seen as a possible option for the repurposing into ethanol production 3, and therefore cellulosic sugar seems a small leap to take. 4 Other industries will switch to more adaptable production too, such as packaging, where the ability to create any shape
Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?
Long Termism and removal of the future discounting rate incorporation of Long Termism philosophy into policy is required to facilitate system change. Policy horizons needs to increase beyond 4 - 8 year election cycles and consider 50 + year time frames in order to incentivise sustainable and resilient practices over short term growth, currently the driving force behind much policy. The discounting rate applied to future generations, (experience of future generations are discounted by economic mechanisms) disfavours short term investment with long run returns on investment e.g. alternative foods, climate change adaptation etc. which would mainly provide value to future generations by maintaining environmental health and insuring civilization doesn’t collapse. Creating policies that take into account the value of the long-run future, which there is widespread support for, would help initiate disfavoured resilience increasing projects. This is operationalised by incorporating the risks discussed into the cost of capital, and for including business continuity planning these scenarios into the terms of business loans. 1, 2
Resilience system management department. Development of new departments in charge of food system resilience to global catastrophe planning and coordination. COVID 19 pandemic laid bare the weakness of the 2020 food production systems and food supply systems between countries. Food production is so interlinked that policy which improves coordination of food production within regions as well as across the world will allow far more effective management of food production decreasing costs and lifting many out of food insecurity.
Disaster risk and resiliency profiling of food system components Policy that requires food systems components e.g. livestock production, food processing, food distribution to be assessed and rated according to its ability to function under certain disaster pressures would provide more realistic valuation of cost and risk profiles of activities. Incidents of significant disruption could also be required to be logged on an open database allowing transparency concerning business continuity. This could also be achieved by a third party validation / rating which would demonstrate improved resilience and internatile the value of resilience in the cost of the service. E.g. seaweed gets a resilience score of 3 as it can be grown in severe drought and without the need for fertilizer making it resilient to drought and supply chain disruption.
Buy backs of high risks low profitability land to native vegetation providing ecological services such as carbon sequestration creating policy that facilitates the transition of low productivity high disaster risk farmland to alternative uses of value, such as native vegetation carbon capture projects allows compassionate transitions for farmers to parallel careers e.g. land managers for carbon capture projects.
Land buybacks already happen in 2020 in Queensland in relation to flooding, so are highly plausible.
Disaster release patent agreements
Development of Catastrophe Resilience Metrics for a given activity, i.e. just like a carbon tax, a minimum resilience requirement is added to an activity that can be demonstrated to maintain under a certain set of adverse parameters, e.g. calories of production that would continue in a given disaster. Each risk would be given its own metric to encourage diversity of production for example climate-adapted food production gains a rebate over status quo food production, traditional agriculture independent food production obtains a high tax rebate again. Metrics for each potential shock are developed,
1 Psychology of Existential Risk and Long-Termism | Effective Altruism
2 Taking the long view | Investment leaders group
Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.
Culture is connected to all other themes and acts as a catalyst or a barrier to change. This is especially obvious in the desirability of policies and new technologies. In our food system a reimagined South Australian cultural identity permits new technologies, embraces diverse diets, chooses economic systems that value resilience alongside efficiency and demands policy that protects society and the environment for future generations. All of these views are expressed in present Australia as Utopian * furthermore, the signals we identified indicate that the disruptions caused by the 2019/2020 Bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic South Australia make this cultural change possible and open a Overton window for future-directed policy.
In our system policy balances cultural desires with economic growth and environmental realities. New policies influence the economy and technology by incentivising innovation and adaptation of the food system to future challenges. This has created an entire new industry of Resilient and Response Food Tech and Knowledge which is a highly valuable export. The constellation of Research - Industry - Technology grow value through various means such as bringing international students to SA to study at the world leading School of Resilient and Response Foods, spawning Alternative Food tech startups, and the valuable products they create once scaled. This ecosystem creates new alternative food technologies, which have low environmental impacts.
Continued research and innovation leads to a constant flow of maturing resilient food technologies and services which are exported to other regions of the world to increase resilience of the Rockefeller 100 Resilient cities network.
This diverse amount of ingredients made available by alternative and traditional foods are combined and co-opted into new dishes and food products enriching food culture and creating highly nutritious diets, which keep citizens healthy.
A widespread shift to regenerative agriculture has greatly reduced the environmental impacts associated with food production and allowed climate mitigation goals to be achieved . Leveraging SA’s high quality renewables and carbon neutral food production technologies and regenerative agriculture practices has led to SA being the world leader in carbon neutral food exports. Carbon neutral foods comand a higher value due to international carbon markets. The various new cuisines created by unique combinations of the diverse foods available continue to develop South Australia’s food culture. Barbecues are still a favourite Sunday Afternoon activity but now you have to choose between, single-celled protein sausages, cultured kangaroo steak, or a lamb chop.
*The Challenges of Living Scenarios for Australia in 2050
Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.
Movement away from animal protein as the major protein source. Animal protein is currently the dominant means of protein production, however: high land and water requirements; low feed conversion efficiency; ecological impacts; and production risks such as increasing antibiotic resistant bacteria and zoonotic virus transmission in industrial farming settings present major challenges to scaling to meet projected protein demand. Transitioning to cellular, microbial and plant proteins provides a highly efficient means to meet projected global protein requirements while reducing land and water use, drought vulnerability, environmental degradation and biosecurity risks. This does not mean eradicating animal protein however will require reductions in volume. This transition is likely to result in tension between the incumbent livestock industry and emerging protein industries. Managing these transitions and corresponding tensions in a mutually beneficial way will be critical, requiring skillful policy.
Dietary shifts to embrace alternative foods such as seaweed, Single Celled Protein and Cellular Agriculture will require a shift in food culture and diet. The familiarity of some of the new foods e.g. seaweed and tofu or incorporation into existing food forms e.g. Leaf Protein Concentrate pasta may not make this transition too difficult, however, will be critical to wide scale adoption.
Embracing new farming identities. Widespread implementation of new food production methods such as Single Celled Protein and Seaweed farming may challenge traditional farming / food production identities associated with rural areas. This may be exacerbated by overlapping declines of farming in climate change affected areas. Although transitioning such farm land to native revegetation carbon sequestration or ecological services projects provides a means to maintain rural vitality, it will be critical to ensure these new farming identities are valued.
Ceasing the discounting rate of future generations. Current economics favours investments with short term return horizons returns. This disincentivizes investment in food system resilience and response capacity as the value is realised by future generations by preventing food system collapse and corresponding societal degradation. Valuing future generations equivalently will be critical to direct investment into resilience and response foods.
Balancing food system resilience against efficiency. Implementation of resilient and response foods ensures a food production can be maintained during disasters, however such measures require significant capital investments and running costs. Efficiency driven food systems such as 2020 South Australia can be severely disrupted by disasters, while excessive resilience measures are too expensive to maintain. Striking the right balance between resilience and efficiency will be critical to creating a food system capable of thriving through the challenges of the 21st century.
3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?
Sign on of necessary, Government, Industry, Private and Community bodies Various bodies are required to undertake the necessary infrastructure, research, and community capacity building required to transform South Australia into the innovation capital for resilient food systems and catapult Australia to the world leader in food system resilience.
Regionally specific food system resilience assessment and strategic assessment document template creation Appropriate research groups and relevant industry and government partners have been brought together in a multi-stakeholder partnership to assess future disaster risk profile for the region. Insights gained utilised to create a disaster resilience food production strategic document outlining the various steps and developments to create a disaster resilient region. Efforts will be made to make assessment processes available such that methodology can be applied to different regions wishing to implement similar food system adaptation to high risk catastrophes.
Funding and Initiation of prototype resilient infrastructure and information capturing projects. Necessary funding and incentive structures will have been obtained such that initiation of disaster resilient food production and supply projects can be initiated. This will mean private partners have been found, required funding has been obtained and the associated academic government links. Each prototype project will be incentivised to release technical information concerning implementation e.g. blue prints, methods, efficiency metrics to the public domain in the event of a significant global disaster.
10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?
Research partners have created a School of Resilient and Response Foods which focus on research to create catastrophe resilient food production systems.
Resilient and response foods incubator is up and running in combination with research partners and has created successful resilient food production companies.
Disaster resilient production government department created and functioning with allocated funding up until 2050 for planning, preparedness, and response to disasters of all scales, and is actively providing food system vigilance.
Resilient food production infrastructure has been created and is ready to be scaled in the event of a disaster, at least one of each of the major alternative food components e.g. SCP has built a full-size facility.
Cultural identity and policy incorporate the value of future citizens which are demonstrated by actionable commitments by governments and citizens to maintain or developed beneficial environmental, societal, and cultural services.
Adapted and improved traditional agricultural practices, such as regenerative agriculture have been majorly adopted.
Disaster resilient production certification body created and undertaking resilience certifications, this can be a government or independent body that assesses the ability of food production and supply systems to function during disasters of various scales and assigns a rating to the methodology.
Performed testing of various resilient food production technologies in disaster mode, A disaster test run has been fire drilled with multiple major alternative food technologies/industries.
Resilient food database goes global, a database detailing all developed resilient food technologies enables easy implementation of technologies to new geographies.
Creation of Food Resilient network with 3 other regions signing on to follow in South Australia's footsteps, 3 regions from other countries have signed on to become resilient food producers and are currently at the 3 year milestone.
If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?
Funding would be directed towards reaching the following goals, moving us towards achieving our 2050 vision.
Q3 2021 - Build Partnerships, we would aim to have established a multi-stakeholder partnership, with partners from across industry, academia, policy, and consumers.
Q4 2022 - We will have completed a strategic assessment of South Australia’s Food System Resilience including a roadmap for development.
Q4 2023 - We will have raised funding for the Resilient & Response Foods Incubator.
If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?
Humanity is currently exposed to a myriad of Global Catastrophic Risks, which have the potential to destroy humanity's future, a subset of these risks result from destroying humanity's ability to feed itself via traditional agriculture. These are real risks but we have the potential to redesign our food systems to reduce them.
The world is growing in its complexity, generating higher levels of risk for networks that are global, the food system is no different and we need to better understand these risks, as well as prepare for them. This will require increasingly coordinated efforts in order to combat risk.
ALLFED's work in building a global alliance dedicated to feeding everyone, no matter what requires all of us to realise the potential that resilient foods have in protecting us from disaster.