3Keel Partner Tom Curtis was asked to pen a few thoughts on what Oxford’s food system might look like in 50 years. His musing were published this week in the University of Oxford alumni magazine ‘Oxford Today‘.
‘In 2065, Oxford takes fewer chances with its food supply. The first half of the century saw some shocks to the food system. These ranged from culture-changing fallout from an obesity epidemic – with fat and sugar treated warily, like alcohol – to harvest and trade system failures resulting in periods of disruption to global supply chains. Oxford resisted any wholesale collapse and no-one went hungry, but the production and consumption of food changed dramatically.
First, new enterprise structures were created: “strategic food partnerships” involving authorities, businesses and citizens. A “land enterprise zone” was created along the Thames Valley. Up to a quarter of Oxford’s food came from this “patchwork foodscape” including most of our fruit and veg, a strategic reserve of staples like wheat, and “precious” products like real meat and fine wine.
Second, technology came to bear on food. Far from a retreat to a pre-industrial agrarian idyll, global trade in food continued, but technology helped Oxford to sidestep dependency on particular raw materials. Techfoods began to be rendered from interchangeable substrates, shipped in from biomass production hotspots. FoodAppz and YouFood cooked up a (reconstituted) storm and millions were spent on marketing the authenticity of instant steak, grown in a lab. Techfoods were supported by techcrops, engineered to suit local soils and prevailing climatic and disease risks.
It is still a subject of fierce debate whether these opposing currents of local food and techfood will result in a two-tier food system or an integrated one that achieves the best of both worlds. The University has led the way for the future of food, cross-fertilising economics, biology, human sciences and business innovation.’
FoodAppz and YouFood cooked up a (reconstituted) storm and millions were spent on marketing the authenticity of instant steak, grown in a lab.
Oxford’s food system in 2065