The documentary film “10 Billion: What’s On Your Plate” was screened on Sunday afternoon as a part of the Metanoia on the Environment Film Series. The 2015 German documentary, directed by Valentin Thurn, examines different approaches to creating sustainable food sources throughout the world.
There are currently over seven billion people in the world, and this number is going to jump to over 10 billion within the next few decades. Food production is already struggling to keep up with the demand, and it will only get worse and worse. Something needs to change, and things are in the process of changing already, but not quickly enough.
How we are producing food is also damaging the environment and it definitely cannot sustain the rate of food production that we are moving towards. This poses the question: how can we make enough food to feed the world without destroying the environment? The documentary set out to find the solution, whether it be through organic or commercial farming.
There is a heavily unequal distribution of food throughout the world. The U.S and Europe consume most of the world’s meat, while countries in Africa and Asia focus on a lot on rice. For example, 40 percent of Indians do not eat meat. However, industrialized production of cheap meats such as chicken has become so easy and inexpensive that it has become an easy way to keep up with India’s growing population and need for food. India now produces seven million chickens per week, the most in the world.
The debate throughout the documentary was simple: is organic farming or commercial farming the way to go? The answer, however, is much less simple. Some say that organic farming is the best option because it’s better for the environment, and better for the animals involved and it is much more sustainable. Others say commercial farming is the way to go because it is much cheaper and can produce much more food in a much shorter period of time.
The film showcased a variety of different means of food production, such as a seed bank in India, which saves all types of natural rice seeds with different properties such as resistance to flooding. “Climate change is creating a need for traditional farming,” one of the women in charge of the seed bank explained. The film also showcased a variety of traditional organic farmers and industrialized commercial farming.
There were also some innovative means of food production shown, such as genetically engineered food, including cultured beef and genetically modified salmon, and factories in Japan that are able to grow plants without soil. The documentary also focused on the work of farmers in Germany, including genetic engineering being conducted at the Bayer factories and mineral fertilizing companies.
One particularly hopeful segment showcased the work of formal basketball player Will Allen, who now is an urban farmer. He owns Growing Power, a company which is able to grow vegetables and fish in an organic, sustainable way in which both the plants and fish are able to feed off of each other. It is based off of the way things work symbiotically in nature.
“We need more independence in our food and we need to change our food sources,” Allen explained.
“This is a really interesting topic, I don’t think we really think about where our food comes from or that we could be running out of it,” eighth-semester environmental science major Daniel Kinney said. “But we could be, and it’s definitely an issue that we need to be aware of.”
Melissa Scrivani is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.