It is estimated that by the year 2050, the world population will reach nine billion. Digital Food asks how we will feed this future population, and what steps can be taken today to prepare for those sustenance needs. The filmmakers speak to authors, chefs, farmers, and scientists to better understand the current state of food production and consumption, as well as the potential for technology to improve the future of food by reducing the need for land, soil, and fossil fuels.
A tour of a solar-powered interior grows house in the Netherlands demonstrates its potential to eliminate the need for fossil fuels and soil by using LED lights that mimic the climate conditions of spring year-round. This makes the grow time much faster than it would be in a four-season environment, and the ability to stack seven rows of crops atop each other makes the space seven times more efficient than a traditional greenhouse.
Chef Dan Barber proposes that instead of producing new food for anticipated future populations, we instead make the most out of using existing crops by reducing food waste and creating a fairer distribution of food across the world. We go inside his kitchen where he creates dishes such as carrot steak out of carrots that have been aged in beef fat. He states we need to "move away from what we covet and towards what the land wants to produce" suggesting we should alter our eating habits to suit the environment, instead of eating based on our desires or for convenience.
Author and philosopher Julian Baggini consider the tension that exists in consumers wanting food that is cheap and plentiful yet clean and healthy. He examines the role of trust in food production and consumption and the need for ethics in the standards and systems that are meant to protect consumers. Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, notes that while informing people about their food will help them understand where their food comes from, it is not in the interest of the food industry and results in push-back from corporate lobbyists.
Digital Food offers a thought-provoking look at food production and consumption while proposing some unique ways of approaching the future of nutrition and sustenance.