My Problem with Solutions

This is in response to week 2 readings for 'Food Systems.'

I have a problem with “solutions.”

Specifically the ones proposed in articles written by journalists who get home and wash the dirt out from under their fingernails after a couples of hours on a farm or in food start-up accelerator videos that double as business plans or “innovative” Kickstarter products are designed for lifestyle-blog aspirations rather than ecological impact.

It’s an issue with generality and vagueness. If I hear anything similar to the phrase “…we’ll need to feed nine billion people by 2050…” one more time, I’m going to smash an heirloom watermelon, Gallagher-style.  This overused soundbite is supposed to strike fear into the heart of the public?How is someone supposed to grasp gravity of that statement? Most people in the demographic you’re trying to reach have a hard time imagining numbers over whatever their Instagram following is. Good…repeat it, use it in every communication you make. That won’t render it completely and totally meaningless.

It’s fantastic that people are designing $400 countertop aquaponic kits. I love the idea of inspect-based tofu. You eat out of dumpsters? Cool! But these aren’t solutions. They’re not short term solutions. They’re not long term solutions. They’re experiments at best and start-up ideas at worst. Go ahead say it…say “but we’ll need to feed nine billion people by 2050.” Yes. But no one is going to feed 9 billion people with the four springs of basil growing in their glorified fish tank. People still don’t eat regular tofu. And eating waste isn’t going to help anyone who lives where they don’t have food to waste in the first place.

Any of these ideas could be the seed of something great. Something that’s going to save us from what’s coming. But first, we need to figure out HOW the thing gets implemented. Then we can call it a working model. It won’t be a “solution” until it feeds…you know.