We are the generation of change

Will Allen recently spoke at the SDSU campus. His message: we have a system that is broken and it’s up to our generation to fix it. Within our lifetime, there will be more than three billion people added to our planet. How are we going to continue feeding these people without completely destroying our environment?

A huge problem is fixing food deserts. A food desert is a geographic area where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile. These are extremely common in highly populated cities. I lived in New York City this past summer where it is easy to find fresh foods but it comes at a cost. This is not the case for cities around the world or even for cities in the U.S.

People need to have access to healthy foods. We have the power, knowledge and technology to feed everyone in the world 2,000 calories a day. This is a testament to how far farming has come. Now we need to perfect the distribution of food. Food is a basic human right and everyone should have equal access to it. Each year, five million people die from lack of food and water. In the Midwest, it is easy for us to not take note of an epidemic that affects so many.

Allen spoke about creating smaller farms in inner city. He has taken abandoned lots and turned them into year-round indoor farms. Aquaculture is a symbiotic practice between fish and plants. This new practice uses the water that fish grow in to water the plants that are grown in greenhouses. These practices may not be the most practical here in South Dakota, but the ideas are absolutely necessary for the rest of the world.

Composting was another key point of Allen’s presentation. Taking waste away from the landfills and putting it back into the soil is something that needs to become a common practice. The farming routines right now around the world are not able to sustain the current farming practices. It’s not quite as easy as throwing your waste into the landfills and takes a good amount of time to compost, but it is a practice that adds nutrients back into the soil.

It is very important for us to start thinking about how we use space. Everywhere else in the world is starting to grow up, up, up, but here in the Midwest we keep growing out, out, out. In New York City, I worked on the 18th floor of a building. I cannot think of many buildings in South Dakota that have over 10 floors. We need to be more conscious of the land that we use.

It is a community concern and we, as a community, need to make a change. It is possible to feed everyone and preserve our environment. We are the generation of change and it is up to us to take responsibility for our planet whether that means recycling, composting or taking care of those who may not be able to take care of themselves. We in the Midwest live in a minority lifestyle. A lifestyle of space, clean water, abundance of food and fresh air that is not available in most of the world. We are the generation of change and it’s time to start doing so.