The Fate of Food

How will we feed a planet that’s hotter, drier, and more crowded than ever? Much of it starts with innovators who are trying to re-invent the global food system to be more productive and nutritious. Vanderbilt University Journalism professor Amanda Little chronicles some of these efforts in her new book, The Fate of Food: What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World. “We see disruption in the auto industry, we see disruption in tobacco – disruption is coming in the meat industry,” says Little, noting how conventional meat companies have been investing in technologies to produce cell-based meat without animals. Other technological innovations, such as robots that can deploy herbicide with sniper-like precision, can help push agriculture toward more sustainable practices. But she also notes the difficulties that food startups face in getting their products to scale – which often means selling to large, industrial producers. “We need the sort of good guys and bad guys to collaborate,” she says. “It doesn't mean that that is disrupting the, you know, the rise of local food webs and farmers markets and CSAs and locally sourced foods. It means maybe this is a way of bringing more intelligent practices to industrial ag.” Twilight Greenaway, a contributing editor with Civil Eats, amplifies these concerns about tech disruption in the food space. “Will there be some [technology] that really can feed into a more democratic food system that allows for different types of ownership less concentrated ownership,” she asks, noting that some startups start out with the goal of selling to a large company. She likens the current conversation to earlier discussions about the organic farming movement leading to little more than an organic Twinkie. “There’s a lot to say about changing practices on the land and what organic means in terms of pesticides and other environmental benefits,” she cautions, “but on the other hand, you’ll still end up with the Twinkie.” Guests: Twilight Greenaway, Contributing Editor, Civil Eats Amanda Little, Professor of Journalism, Vanderbilt University Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

by Climate One