This is still a draft (second version). Come back for the final version, you'll probably be surprised.
When the proverbial S&!# hits the fan, supply chains are disrupted and some people die of starvation. Our current economy is very well organized to maximize wealth generation, which means a balance between fulfilling desires and needs while making money. But at the same time, our economy is unsustainable and fragile. It relies on a web of centralized systems, which are themselves fragile, and when one of them fails others can follow. During the 2008 financial crisis people still needed to eat and farmers still possessed the land and the machines to produce food, but the global food market was greatly disrupted. In capitalism, the market is supposed to readjust to fulfill a new need, but that cannot happen fast enough when the economic infrastructure is affected by a crisis. In socialism, or planned economies, the Government is not well suited to deal with complex situations. Food supply chains can be disrupted because of a regional armed conflict, oil price fluctuations, bad weather conditions, pandemic, to name just a few, without digressing into nuclear and asteroid collisions. The best way to deal with these situations is a mix of button-up and top-down approaches within a commons-based peer production framework.
|Store in Venezuela, country with the largest oil reserves.|
In normal times, entire populations depended on staples produced by the industrial agriculture. These products are designed to concentrate lots of nutrients and in normal times it makes economic sense to consume them. The paradox is that when access to these products is disrupted, people can starve surrounded by an abundance of food. Many indigenous eatable plants grow around us but we have forgotten how to prepare them. I live in Canada and the great majority of food products that are available in groceries are not indigenous. In times of crisis we eat what we find. Are we prepared to process local food sources?
|Delicious Romanian nettle soup|
Modern technology allows us to more efficiently extract and concentrate nutrients from indigenous plants that are not part of our diet in normal times, as they compete with modern agriculture products.
If one day nettles are the only remaining thing that we can eat we'll need time to learn how to prepare them. To get the equivalent in protein of a steak, one needs to eat a 25Kg stack of nettles. Obviously no one can have that in a single serving. In times of crisis, knowing how to make nettle soup is not enough. We need to learn how to extract and concentrate the protein, and how to cook a delicious meal much like a filly tofu dish. That requires learning time and specialized tools. If it is not in our culture to eat nettles, in normal times it is hard to convince people to learn how to prepare them or to invest in equipment to process them.
How to tap into the latent food capacity and be always prepared for rough times? The solution proposed by sensoricans is a versatile food processor that in normal times can mill corn, extract oil from seeds, make tofu, make noodles and all sorts of other tings, while also being able to process eatable indigenous plants. On top of guaranteeing food security, this technology also makes food more sustainable by expanding our food sources, and by encouraging consumption of plant-based proteins instead of animal protein. This seams like a very ambitious plan, but we are not in uncharted territory.
In recent years, 3D printing has revolutionized fabrication. A 3D printer is a versatile technology that can come in the form of a desktop machine able to make toys, and can be easily scaled to a larger rig that can build an entire house in a single day. Almost anything that we can imagine, of any shape and practically of any type of material can be 3D printed. Sensoricans' plan for food processing is similar to what what 3D printing has done to fabrication.
3D printing was invented in the 80'. The Fused Deposit Modeling (FDM) patent expired in 2009, and marked the beginning of the 3D revolution, with the open source hardware community swarming this technology. Sensorica's economic model builds on the open source innovation mode, inheriting the same properties of rapid development and viral dissemination.
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