• Thursday, May 28, 2015

    AgriCultural Fusion

    It takes a village… a global village

    For the past several years one of the hottest trends in food has been cultural fusion, two or more cultures contributing to one dish or a restaurant concept. For example, last year after the Alltech Symposium we went to a little place called The Local Taco where I enjoyed the fusion of Asian and Latin American dishes with my Korean BBQ Tacos. I also had a Buffalo Chicken Taco. Another fusion of cultures. Oh my goodness! They were amazing!

    As I was thinking about this year’s conference, my mouth watering in anticipation of some more Korean BBQ tacos, I realized that those culturally-infused tacos were a kind of symbol of where agriculture is going in the future. We have to embrace AgriCultural Fusion or we will get left in the dust.

    This was my third trip to the Alltech Symposium. Last year, I wrote about the things that global agricultural companies do for the average consumer. It’s always an enjoyable time, a great time to interact with my blogging buddies, enjoy some fermented beverages, and learn about the next big thing in agriculture.

    This symposium is by-far the most international meeting I attend regularly. This year, 88 countries were represented among the attendees. The conference is translated into 6 languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese. Alltech is involved in agriculture all over the world. The founder’s son, Dr. Mark Lyons, is currently in China working for the company.

    I love meeting and visiting with people involved in agriculture from all over the world. This year I made a new friend from the Netherlands. In year’s past I’ve met folks from Mexico, Venezuela, and several from Ireland. Every one of them has a place in global food production.

    Everyone involved in agriculture is thinking about and preparing to feed the 9 billion people that will populate the Earth in the year 2050. In the livestock industry, we are especially concerned with the 3 billion people will enter the middle class in that time and be demanding more animal-based foods like meat, milk, and eggs.

    It will take a global effort to get us there; a global village to raise all the food we need and get it delivered to people in a safe and sustainable way. In agriculture, we will have to learn to embrace doing things in new ways to produce enough food to feed everyone.

    General Colin Powell was a speaker at the conference and I think he had a great quote about China. He said, “The Chinese have a different system, and they like it. They used it to pull 400 million people out of poverty.”

    I don’t mean that we will have to all do things exactly the same way, but we need to have some AgriCultural Fusion to improve everyone’s productivity. We will learn things from South Americans and Africans and Asians and Europeans and Australians and apply what works in the US. They will do the same in their country.

    You wouldn’t sell many Korean BBQ tacos if that combination didn’t taste good. (mmm… tacos)
    Feeding the world is going to take thinking globally and acting locally. AgriCultural fusion shows itself in lots of ways already.
    • It is as small as me trying to figure out how to grow Chinese cabbage in my back yard.
    • Cattle breeders in the US use Japanese cattle breeds such as Wagyu or Akaushi to improve marbling in our beef.
    •  It may be applying techniques of Korean natural farming to farms in Hawaii.
    • Students at Abilene Christian University research techniques for raising goats and share them with African farmers.
    • Americans teach pork and dairy farming techniques to farmers in China.
    • Charities, like Heifer International, give livestock to families in the developing world and teach them how to care for them.

    AgriCultural fusion is happening all around us. Thanks to technology, our chance to learn from other cultures is only limited by the speed of our smart phone.

    It will be so exciting to see where we go from here.

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