In the United States, 2.3 million Americans without transportation live more than one mile away from the nearest supermarket. These areas are called food deserts. Technology can help this population eat better and save money.
A population that’s expanding in an environment that consists of limited resources poses a problem for the future of mankind. As more industries seek and implement sustainable solutions, society is slowly undergoing a change where business leaders are starting to think about the impact that enterprise activities have on the environment. Resultingly, enterprise leaders and researchers are turning to technology to find ways to sustain the environment and humanity.
Researchers estimate that the world’s food producers must double production by the year 2030 to fulfill the dietary needs generated by the planet’s forecast population growth to 9 billion people by the year 2050. This is an enormous challenge in a world where the United Nations (UN) is also working to end all hunger by the year 2030. Technology provides faster solutions for learning about and solving these kinds of problems. Innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data systems are helping scientists make great advancements in sustainability research. They’re discovering valuable ways to preserve the environment by improving the ways that enterprises conduct business.
Technology makes transportation more efficient. To reduce the impact on the environment, scientists urge consumers to make more use of public transportation such as buses, ride shares and trains. If consumers were to follow the recommendations of researchers and use public transportation, they could reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 37 million metric tons and gasoline consumption by 4.2 billion gallons.
Food often travels a great distance before it makes it to the meal table. In fact, this is a great source of debate in the scientific community. With some food products, transport is a significant source of greenhouse emissions. Some researchers argue that the carbon use of organic crops does more harm to the environment than the carbon emission generated by transporting food. Other researchers note that the sum of all current agriculture activities produce the maximum estimated level of organic emissions that scientists forecast the planet can withstand in total by the year 2050. Either way, food waste contributes to this problem double fold by requiring producers to grow more goods and then transport them to consumers.
The American Nutrition Association designates regions that lack a sufficient supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole foods as “food deserts.” These are generally impoverished areas occupied by underserved populations. In food deserts, it’s difficult for consumers to access healthy and culturally relevant foods. Technology, however, is a solution for accessing nutritious and desirable nourishment. It makes it possible for supermarkets to deliver food to consumers. With innovations such as smartphone apps, even consumers who don’t live near supermarkets and are without transportation have access to healthy foods in select regions.
Researchers hope that technology will help them find more solutions for providing access to food for consumers who live in food deserts. Meanwhile, nonprofit organizations, social workers and government agencies are conducting outreach work to help consumers who live in these areas, including initiatives such as nutrition training and health advocacy. The entities also work to promote awareness of food deserts and distribute information about how to help people who live in these areas. Together, these individuals and organizations can help the residents of food deserts live healthier lives.
Sustainability in Food Distribution
Public demand has prompted enterprises to understand and mitigate the impact that their goods have on the environment. Innovative technologies have given enterprises this ability and resulted in a new supply chain term called “hyper-transparency.” Today, connected supply chain systems provide enterprises with detailed sourcing data. In the future, technology experts hope that the Internet of Things (IoT) will allow manufacturers and food producers to track goods throughout their entire lifecycle – from production to recycling and on through repurposing. Companies can already monitor inventories in real-time, and as more technologies evolve, their combined utilities spawn new, exciting - and sometimes unforeseen - applications.
Technology is transforming the world, and more enterprises are using it to take better care of the environment. One day, engineers hope that they can develop technologies that can measure the impact that all products leave on the environment. The development of this kind of empowering innovation requires the skills of experts trained in STEM sciences who can develop technologies into new and beneficial iterations.
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