Technology itself is neither plague nor panacea for our sustainable, inclusive food future. It is always humans who choose which innovations to pursue, and how to use them. The revolution of digital technology presents this challenge in new and old ways, and our choices must be guided by clear morals that view food production and consumption not as just another opportunity for profit, but as fundamental to the survival of our species and the planet.

Empowering small farms, sustainability and farm-to-table are among the most important principles that must guide innovative digital initiatives seeking to make the food industry more sustainable and democratic. These exciting projects harness the digital world's ability to connect people and organize information to change the way we consume: from apps that avoid food waste to online platforms that connect customers to local farmers to virtual tools designed to foster production that protects biodiversity, and help circumvent the international corporations who too often block the redistribution of wealth to smaller, more sustainable farms.

Here are some of the forward-thinking digital projects keeping the way we eat exciting, efficient, healthy and humane.

Avoiding Waste, Connecting Farm-To-Table

Preserving natural resources requires more than good will. Those pushing for a more sustainable food system must know how best to measure, allocate and repurpose the resources at hand to avoid unnecessary waste and pollution. Digital applications and smart systems are using data collection and management to keep a lid on overconsumption and overuse:

• Beat The Expiration Date: More than 27 million tons of food waste is generated every year — in Japan alone. To save resources, Taichi Isaku, a member of Slow Food Japan, created an app called Tabete which connects users with store products on the brink of expiration, so they can quickly be bought and consumed. The popular app came in handy during the COVID outbreak, when many closed restaurants were able to save the food they would otherwise have been forced to discard. Isaku was a feature speaker at the October 16 panel "Edible Cities, Cities of the Future" as part of the ongoing Terra Madre digital conference.

The "farm-to-table" philosophy is driven by the goal of connecting locally grown ingredients with nearby customers, fighting for all citizens to have nutritious and sustainable alternatives to pre-packaged foods — and avoid harmful emissions from transportation. Online platforms have been particularly helpful in this area, using their ability to boost communication to keep small growers in business all over the globe:

• France: As a country particularly keen on terroir, France is seeing a boom in mobile apps that help citizens consume local products. One website, Mangeonslocal-en-idf.com, not only shows a map of markets that sell locally-sourced goods, but also highlights restaurants that work with nearby farms. Other startups, such as La Ruche qui dit oui, allow locals to purchase their groceries from neighboring farms online — and, now in the time of COVID, have them delivered to their door.

• U.S.A.: Another interesting way the digital world has helped connect small farms and locals is through crowdfunding. Steward, an American crowdfunding platform that specifically aims to help small sustainable farms, has reported an enormous spike in demand since the pandemic as increasingly conscious consumers seek to buy direct.

Empowering Small Farmers, Informing Us All

Mobile apps in particular have been a digital weapon of choice for boosting the business of farmers in small and isolated economies, allowing them to both gain visibility and sell their goods more efficiently. Here are two examples in Africa:

• Stay informed: While Uganda's agricultural sector has seen many positive developments in recent years, many of these changes never reached the poor, smallholder farmers located in areas where food is particularly scarce. In order to spread the word, Slow Food Uganda has been working with Agricultural Innovation Systems Brokerage to provide mobile-based services to this demographic. Their platform facilitates space for these farmers to communicate with the government officers charged with disseminating new agricultural findings and techniques, even enabling them to ask questions in their local language.

• Opening up the Conversation: The digital revolution has also helped keep Slow Food's signature event Terra Madre going during the pandemic. What is normally a week-long gathering of artisanal food producers — organized thanks to the commitment of the City of Turin and the Region of Piedmont — has gone virtual. Though nothing can replace the precious in-person human connections, the ongoing series of digital conferences and exhibitions is available for everyone to attend on the dedicated Terra Madre platform.



Terra Madre is an event organized by Slow Food, Regione Piemonte and Città di Torino​.

Ordinanza Regione Piemonte - Covid-19 - Comune di Usseglio

Città di Torino - Divisione Servizi Educativi

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!

La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ