From salads to desserts, most of the dishes on the plate can be carefully grown in plants. Even the meat of the animals we eat is likely to have been fed by plants that were plant-dependent, in other words, converting energy received from the sun into a food chain.
Modern agriculture today incurs a lot of environmental costs. Crops such as corn and soybeans are often grown on large farms, which are fed with fertilizers and pesticides made from fossil fuels. On the other hand, cutting and burning carbon-absorbing forests adds carbon dioxide to the air. Heavy soils destroy fungal networks and cause less water absorption, destruction of natural resources and soil erosion. This process is only a small part of how our food system relates to the weather. Recent estimates show that the total share of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture is more than 30%.
To help address this problem, the UN Food Systems Summit provided sustainable solutions for agriculture. Participants in the meetings believed that all people around the world should work together to change the way food is produced, consumed and thought about.
In this regard, an increasing number of food producers and investors have turned to advanced methods that revive traditional agriculture and are considered a commendable move towards sustainable agriculture. These practices – such as increasing plant genetic diversity and planting cover crops that release nitrogen from the atmosphere and add it to the soil – can help improve soil health and return more carbon to the soil.
Today, there is a close link between the food plants we depend on and the threats posed by climate change. We can now use an electron microscope to magnify the smallest parts of a plant and better understand the ecological damage and try to fix it.