How to feed an extra 2 billion people by 2050? A shift in how we grow food.
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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

By 2050, the Earth's population is expected to hit 9 billion (!). That means we're going to need to get creative to feed 2 billion more mouths every day.

How in the heck are we going to do that?

We already live in a world where nearly 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger. How are we supposed to get that number down while also sustaining a growing population?


One answer lies in our cities:

For those who live in big cities around the world, having access to fresh, naturally grown food is not a given. That's where this inventive solution comes in.

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Upworthy on Monday, February 13, 2017

This video illustrates the need for food to be produced closer to where people live. As more people are moving to cities, hauling food products hundreds or thousands of miles from farms to grocery shelves isn't a sustainable option. That's why farms are moving into cities.

To feed everyone, we have to rethink where our food comes from.

The urban population of the world has been growing incredibly fast. In 1950, there were 746 million people living in urban areas. By 2014, that number jumped to 3.9 BILLION. And it only keeps increasing.

Within the next 30 years, it is expected that 70% of the world population will be located in urban areas, with most of the growth occurring in less developed countries.

The good news: We already produce enough food to feed 9 billion people. It's just not reaching the people who need it, and a third of all food produced is wasted. In other words, the major problems are access and waste.

In the United States alone, we waste enough food to fill up a 90,000-person football stadium EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

One way to help with both the access and the waste problems is to grow food where people already are: in cities.

Image ​​by Junko Kimura/Getty Images.​ ​

When you picture a farm, a city setting doesn't typically come to mind. But these days, it's becoming quite common to see farms on the tops of buildings, in small, communal plots of land, or in abandoned warehouses that beam with artificial light.

The traditional concept of farming in rural "farm country" has been broadened to more dense environments around the world, in cities with all types of weather and climate.

Image via iStock.

Yes, that means you can even grow food in the middle of a desert city like Dubai. Pretty cool!

Farming closer to home means the food is fresher, people are healthier, there's less food waste, and the environment is happier because of shorter distances from farm to table. And not only that, but urban plots can be up to 15 times more productive than rural ones, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.  

Growing food in urban areas is one answer to feeding more people, but it's just one piece of the puzzle.

To feed the world's growing population will require an equal focus on traditional agricultural practices in order for us to make real impact.

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project. ‌

Up to 80% of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa is produced by female and smallholder farmers — many of them female. If we really want to close the hunger gap and feed more people, we must properly invest in their resources and growth to help boost their incomes and productivity with their yields.

There's a lot of work to be done before we're successfully able to feed an additional 2 billion people. It will take a global effort to find a sustainable balance between old and new agricultural practices.

It's cool to see that work in progress — quite literally, growing from a rooftop in the middle of a city.

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Davina Agudelo was born in Miami, Florida, but she grew up in Medellín, Colombia.

"I am so grateful for my upbringing in Colombia, surrounded by mountains and mango trees, and for my Colombian family," Agudelo says. "Colombia is the place where I learned what's truly essential in life." It's also where she found her passion for the arts.

While she was growing up, Colombia was going through a violent drug war, and Agudelo turned to literature, theater, singing, and creative writing as a refuge. "Journaling became a sacred practice, where I could leave on the page my dreams & longings as well as my joy and sadness," she says. "During those years, poetry came to me naturally. My grandfather was a poet and though I never met him, maybe there is a little bit of his love for poetry within me."

In 1998, when she left her home and everyone she loved and moved to California, the arts continued to be her solace and comfort. She got her bachelor's degree in theater arts before getting certified in journalism at UCLA. It was there she realized the need to create a media platform that highlighted the positive contributions of LatinX in the US.

"I know the power that storytelling and writing our own stories have and how creative writing can aid us in our own transformation."

In 2012, she started Alegría Magazine and it was a great success. Later, she refurbished a van into a mobile bookstore to celebrate Latin American and LatinX indie authors and poets, while also encouraging children's reading and writing in low-income communities across Southern California.

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via Pixabay

As people get older, social isolation and loneliness become serious problems. Many find themselves living alone for the first time after the death of a spouse. It's also difficult for older people to maintain friendships when people they've known for years become ill or pass away.

Census Bureau figures say that almost a quarter of men and nearly 46% of women over the age of 75 live alone.

But loneliness doesn't just affect those who reside by themselves. People can feel lonely when there is a discrepancy between their desired and actual relationships. To put it simply, when it comes to having a healthy social life, quality is just as important as quantity.

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