According to NBC News, 73% of Americans now believe climate change is real. Still, the climate change discussion mostly focuses on long-term weather changes and air quality. What about food quality? CNN reports that as climate change effects set in, the cost of food will spike and the quality of nutrients will decline. Is NASA making food out of air a possible solution?
Making Food From Air
CNN Health estimates that roughly 80.5 million people in the world don’t have enough food to eat. Most of these people live in poor countries, but developed nations are not immune. Roughly 13.1 million children living in America often go without food.
The World Economic Forum recently ran a story on the NASA invention called solein. Using carbon dioxide, Finnish scientists created food by combining air with water and solar energy. The final product contains proteins, carbs, and fats. It’s being tested as a food product to enrich protein shakes and yogurt, or turned into more traditional-looking foods.
CNN believes this new alternative to food creation is 100 times better for the environment than current farming techniques. It also notes that scientists can create this form of food in a controlled environment, making the process immune to climate change and unfavorable weather conditions. The company intends to do a full launch of the product by 2021.
Melissa Morris is a professor teaching nutrition and applied kinesiology at the University of Tampa. She tells Parentology, “…this is exciting and has some great potential. It could definitely solve some of the issues with protein malnutrition in underdeveloped countries.”
Morris continues, “In the US, most of us get plenty of protein.” In other countries, though, “Some people who are malnourished may get enough calories, but they aren’t getting all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need for good health.”
Bilal Qizilbash, the CEO of EasyKale, is a scientist committed to closing the hunger and nutrition gap in America. He points out that while the science itself is promising, “…this discovery [is] a sensationalized bandage for a much more complex issue — and that is a lack of infrastructure necessary to deliver this extra food to those who need it most, making practical application of this discovery futile.”
He believes America first needs a cost-effective method of distribution to those in need. Otherwise, the extra food created “out of thin air” will only add to the estimated 30% to 40% of American food supply wasted on a yearly basis.
Parentology asked Qizilbash what the responsible parties can do to counteract this. One of his suggestions was a localized system meeting the direct needs of the community.” Other options Qizilbash said to consider: planting edible bushes in local parks, partnerships with local grocery stores on special sections for free food that would otherwise be wasted, and centers where food can be rapidly dehydrated and redistributed to food desert areas.
The Bottom Line
NASA making food out of air sounds like a promising solution to hunger in America. Unfortunately, wastefulness may undermine its effectiveness. If the final product is affordable, it may have a more profound impact in underdeveloped and developing countries.