Sharing Food, Reducing Waste in Vertical Cities

Thinking more about daily life in the vertical city, I started thinking about how food waste might be reduced when living in a place with such a high population density. First, though, I did some research on how this was currently dealt with today. I looked at and learned more about:

Food Rescue – Restaurants and supermarkets currently donate food sometimes when they have too to sell. However, food rescue groups currently need to recruit lots of volunteers to drive across cities to collect this food. The food’s safety must also be determined.

Four Alternatives Futures of Food – These were two reports I found on the Institute of the Future’s site, thinking about what might happen to how we interact with food in the future. They proposed four broad scenarios of what might happen to the “food web” (the current network of how food is produced/distributed/consumed/disposed). I found it very interesting to read about these four scenarios, which included:

Growth – Essentially, everything continues growing at the rate it is now. Meaning, well-off people will continue gaining access to more and more varieties of food, whereas lower class people will continue struggling with food insecurity.

Constraint – Some type of event will occur (like zoonotic disease) which will compromise the international food network and result in rallying behind more local forms of food production. There will be a rise in popularity for farmer’s markets and urban farming, but will result in a lesser variety of food. Things like meat become expensive treats for special occasions, because they are more complex and resource-intensive to produce.

Collapse – The food network collapses, perhaps from an energy crisis. People start hoarding food, the variety of food available shrinks, perhaps only limited to a few “staple” crops. People’s nutrition–especially for those with less– is supplemented often by nutritional pills.

Transformation – This is when the entire food web is revolutionized by something entirely new–for example, what refrigeration did for the way we consume food today. The report alludes to 3D printing of food (see Yvonne’s project) as one possible source of transformation.

The first report talks about these alternative futures and what “Dinnertime in 2021” might look like. The second report talks more specifically about what might happen to our food choices in the future, and in different regions like Brazil, North America, Europe and China.

After doing this background research, I started thinking about the story I was going to tell. I am imagining a scenario in which in the future, people are living in tightly-packed vertical cities. Food has become more expensive to produce, though middle-class and upper-class people can still afford it. It’s mainly the lower-class people who also live in the city in subsidized housing blocks who struggle to acquire good food that doesn’t come in a pill. Right now, I’m planning on showing the main character who is talking about hosting a dinner party for his friends later on in the evening. His groceries come from grocery-sharing plan and are also genetically-modified to have extremely long shelf-life. He cooks and invites his friends over, since those are still enjoyable activities for him. However, when their dinner is over, they see they have some leftovers. He packs them away, but notices some other tupperware in his fridge is indicating that the food won’t be viable after 2-3 more days. Remembering he has to go on a business trip tomorrow, he decides to take the food down the hall to the goods elevator. He drops off the leftovers in the elevator, sanitizing it first with a cheap UV sanitation wand. He scans his CityID on the reader, and the reader tells him because he’s contributed 820g of food, he’ll get 40 credits (for something?? Or maybe it’s mysterious). I’m debating whether I should include a sequence showing someone who lives in a subsidized housing block coming in to the elevator to pick up food. It seems like a good idea to show both sides of the coin, but I’ll write more about that later. You can see this story illustrated in storyboards I have so far:


Photo Mar 05, 12 58 11 PM

Photo Mar 05, 12 58 22 PM

Scouting potential shooting locations.

Scouting potential shooting locations.


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