Food. A singular word that’ll invoke fond childhood memories and mouth-watering cravings to anyone who hears it. From staple ingredients to products steeped in family history, there’s a story behind all types of food. Their journey from the farm to the table hasn’t happened overnight. Centuries of work in the development of agricultural, horticultural, and aquacultural processes have created the modern food production landscape of today. Modern technology has also enhanced those conducting the work with increases in productivity and improved efficiencies. This has also shaped distribution and processing methods that have impacted how consumers receive the fruits of the farmer's labour.
As commercial farming has increased, technology has provided solutions to many of the growing pains experienced within the farming industry, particularly for those in the agricultural sector. With large areas of land needed for crop cultivation, and the manual labour required, technology has made farming more efficient and more productive. Tractors, combines, and harvesters significantly reduced the time required to harvest crops, increasing the viability of commercial farming. Traditional horse (pulling) power was replaced with the horsepower of an engine.
Modern technology has also enhanced the size of food-producing land and significantly reduced the costs of labour, which can cost from between 25% to 75% of a crop's value. Developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have proved to have a significant impact in reducing labour costs throughout the agricultural industry. Autonomous tractors are carrying out instructions with little to no human intervention, and predictive analytics are being used to predict crop yields using algorithms and data.
Throughout human history, there have been over 30,000 edible plant species discovered. Yet only about 6,000-7,000 of these plant species are cultivated for consumption, with only approximately 170 grown on a commercial scale. Why? Many indigenous crops like Kumara and Jackfruit are typically low yielding, come from small geographical areas or are poorly researched, thus limiting their commercial viability. However, crops like the soybean and sugar-beet have become widespread thanks to the increase in discovered uses. Soybeans are now being used widely as milk and meat substitutes in vegan and vegetarian diets. Whilst sugar-beets have emerged as an alternative to cane sugar.