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  • Aaryan Doshi

Circular Economy - Farming & Taste Adaptation


Circular Economy - Farming & Taste Adaptation image: adobe firefly

As we welcome 2023, we need to be thankful for a relatively mild 2022 when it comes to wildfires. But wait. Was this just due to the weather, or was there some other reason for this? Since 2021, when we were all locked up inside our houses and the normally blue sky was orange, pink, and brown due to the wildfires, I started noticing the crews who would cut trees and remove dry vegetation. Proactively cutting vegetation or even trees goes a long way in reducing wildfires. As dry weather becomes more prevalent, this becomes a way for us to adapt to those dry conditions. The urgency of climate adaptation cannot be overstated as we grapple with the increasing vagaries of climate change such as hurricanes, droughts, mudslides, and, of course, rising temperatures. 



So what would adaptation look and feel like when we transition to a circular economy? For example, over 50% of the world's agriculture is devoted to just four crops and 83% to just 10 crops . To drive maximum yields, we introduce pesticides and fertilizers - unfortunately this in the long term destroys the soil and diminishes returns for future seasons. However, a circular strategy would be to introduce inter-cropping - mixing other crops in your rice or wheat fields. This not only helps in soil regeneration but also promotes biodiversity. The transition to a circular economy offers a hopeful future where we can sustainably meet our needs without compromising the health of our planet. 



For example, certain plants, such as walnuts, absorb more CO2 than others. Of all the nuts, walnuts have the lowest carbon footprint. Will that be enough for climate-conscious youth like me to move from potato chips to walnuts? Walnut chips, anyone? I wonder!



And then what about sugar? I have always wondered. The funny thing is that we have plant-based alternatives for meat. But we need to realize that we can also have plant-based alternatives for other plant-based foods like sugar. Most of the world's sugar is produced from sugar cane or sugar beets. Since sugar is consumed so widely, it occupies more agricultural space, reducing crop diversity. However, there could be several other sources of sugar, such as fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, sweet peas, carrots, and peaches. Of course, producing sugar from these sources will likely taste different and require us to adapt our tastes accordingly.



Strategies such as intercropping and crop diversity are crucial to promoting circular agriculture and farming practices - to prevent harm to our soil and regenerate the health of soil nutrients naturally. Still, like the climate, it will take us adapting our tastes to help our planet!



References:

Cart, J. (2022, November 30). By the numbers: California’s mild 2022 wildfire season. CalMatters. https://calmatters.org/environment/wildfires/2022/12/california-wildfires-2022/



Four Cash Crops Take Up Half of Global Farmland - Cornucopia Institute. (2019, February 28). Cornucopia Institute. https://www.cornucopia.org/2019/02/four-cash-crops-take-up-half-of-global-farmland/



Sloat, L. (n.d.). The World Is Growing More Crops — but Not for Food. World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/insights/crop-expansion-food-security-trends



Emmott, T. (n.d.). When it comes to sustainability, not all nuts are created equal. https://www.nutcellars.com/blog/sustainability-not-all-nuts-are-created-equal



Farm to Table- Sugar’s story starts in the field. (2019, May 28). https://www.sugar.org/sugar/farm-to-table/

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