Integrated Food Systems Research
Emerging digital agri-food technologies offer the potential to produce more food in an environmentally sustainable manner, but the implementation of digital technologies faces many challenges, such as data ownership, social impact in rural communities, and regulatory barriers. Food from Thought’s integrated research approach explores how these pieces influence agriculture, and involves collaboration across all research themes.
Through a combination of climate change projections and assessing environmental conditions such as global terrain, soil and land cover models, Food from Thought researchers found that most of northern Canada is expected to become suitable for crop production within the next few decades. However, there are concerns around the social and environmental impacts of such production, such as the acceleration of climate change due to soil carbon content and the need to ensure that Indigenous Communities are empowered to help govern any land use changes.
Digital technologies are rapidly changing the agriculture sector, and the governance of those technologies for security, ownership and privacy is being explored in Food from Thought. Additionally, the agricultural labour market has begun to shift as a result of these emerging digital technologies. Food from Thought is facilitating training to help prepare tomorrow’s graduates with the necessary skills to meet demand for the shifting job market.
There are also challenges surrounding the priorities of what food is being produced. While there is currently large production of sugar, fat and carb-related foods, Food from Thought researchers are looking at how digital technologies provide an opportunity to increase production of fruit and vegetables for a more sustainable and nutritious diet.