There are many discussions going on in the area of food production, distribution, and consumption. For a significant part, this discussion can be divided into two sides: people advocating we should go back to traditional ways of the food industry and people promoting the interference of scientific developments. Both sides are strong supporters of a food industry that produces and distributes food in a way that is less harmful for the environment, and to develop healthier food for consumption. The group that promotes science is highly criticised because of a fear of losing the human aspect in the food system (Parasecoli, 2015). But would it really be that bad to involve technology on a greater scale in the food industry? While many industries have already faced opportunities, and challenges, from great disruptive technologies and developments, the food industry seems to have stayed behind.
When we think about disruptive technologies in the food industry, things like robot-chefs and 3D printed food comes to mind. Even though these kind of technologies are currently being developed (Davis et al, 2015) the great advantage for now might lie in less extravagant developments. Developments that we already find pretty common, like sensors, WiFi, smartphones, and drones, are actually disrupting the traditional ways of producing food (Byrnes, 2015). Not so much individually, but combined they offer great potential for one of the potential great disrupters of the food industry: Big data. You might say that this is nothing new, but for the food industry to change we have to go back to where the production of food starts, which are the farmers. And if you then consider that the broad availability of WiFi in great farmer areas, the usage of smart phones, and the development of accurate but cheap sensors, has not been around for that long it is not surprising that there have been little farmers taking advantage of the possibilities. The different data coming from these sources offer farmers the possibility to combine this information with for example weather forecasts and make better decisions. This results in better quality crops, less costs for the farmer because of for example more efficient use of fertilizers, and consequently more revenue (Byrnes, 2015).
The use of big data in the food industry can be relatively easily implemented by the farmers, no big investments are necessary and information can be readily available. It enables a more efficient use of resources, which is better for the environment and the farmers, and it leads to be a better quality of crops which is beneficial for the consumer. All without technology genetically modifying our food or removing the human aspect in our food production.
Byrnes, N., 2015. Internet of farm things. [online] Technology review. [available at] http://www.technologyreview.com/news/537596/internet-of-farm-things/ [Accessed 6 October 2015]
Davis, N., Burgen, S., & Corbyn, Z., 2015. Future of food: how we cook. [online] The Guardian. [available at] http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/13/future-of-food-how-we-cook [Accessed 6 October 2015]
Parasecoli, F., 2015. Food and technology: clash or synergy? [online] Huffington post. [available at] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fabio-parasecoli/food-and-technology-clash_b_8206410.html [Accessed 6 October 2015]