The Current Situation
Andreas Gursky, 99 Cents, 1999
Germany is relying on an import based food supply strategy. Drastic environmental, societal and economic changes like global pandemics, global warming, international conflicts, refugee crisis, trade embargos and other threatening future events are inevitable, pending and in some cases already in action. Those hazardous and very likely events will destroy or disrupt the global food supply chain and therefore affect food security in Germany. Germany has a sufficient supply of agricultural space and know-how, which is right now only focusing on a small product palette, due to international competition and market pressure. A governmentally subsidized and empowered local food production and supply chain, is able to compete with the international opponents and will therefore replace the singular reliance on the global food supply chain.
The global food supply chain is inefficient, environmentally undesirable and inconsistent for producers and consumers, due to monetary opportunism and unequal monetary distribution, established by the marketing and lobby industry behind it. For the creation of a local food supply system a new framework has to be set up.
Of course there are many limitations to the regional food supply chain. As mentioned before, we didn’t include the meat and dairy industry so far, but we see an an urgent necessity to change and improve the current practices and conditions in these branches of the food industry.
A natural limitation is what gets planted and what grows where, in other words, the way the land is used. While there are enough vegetables and crops to be harvested, fruits are a weak point. Either the amount of land use with fruits needs to increase in order to reduce the import from other federal states and countries or the diversification of planted food needs to be adjusted to the demand. Lower meat consumption would be equal to a more reasonable agricultural land use and offer more fields for crops and fruits. The natural resources are existing, the fields to provide Munich with food are present but its use needs to adapted to a changing world.
A helicopter flies over the burning forest near Kiefersfelden/Bavaria, 2018, Image: dpa
In the various global shutdowns due to the corona-virus, supermarkets have never been closed since they are part of our vital infrastructure of food distribution. Online shopping, by far the safest way to get groceries, is booming yet but cannot replace physical supermarkets in terms of capacity and reachability.
Due to major risks in the processes of the food-supply-chain, it becomes more and more necessary for countries to switch from an import based food economy to a more autonomous economic concept, based on local cultivation and distribution. As a consequence, the new local food industry becomes more stressable and proves stable against potential emergencies such as closed borders, embargoes or the breakaway of the global food chain. Rethinking the existing conditions and adapting a regional supply chain also opens the mind for other threatening situations. E.g. if the area of Munich itself or its surroundings become an emergency, may it be a natural or so societal disaster. However, under these circumstances, Munich would need the help of other neighboring cities.
Cow & Co, Image: A. Eggers & O. v. Roeder
A new framework for a healthier and regional food-supply-chain has be set up. It is time for new and unusual looking and sounding ideas. It is time to consider them as helpful tools to develop new approaches for unknown futures. An infratectural approach, which combines the conceptual and creative design process of architecture and the pragmatic, sober and analytical characteristics of infrastructural planning, will establish a food supply chain, which works efficiently, is consistent for producers and consumers and has positive effects on society, economy, environment and climate.
The localization of food production and supply longs for the development of a circular eco-social market economy. The concept of an economic metabolism is perfectly applicable in this case. Therefore certain agents, material flows and value chains have to be established. The previously described flows consisting of input flows, inner flows and output flows, take place in particular localities, either within the city, in the rural context, or at the intersection of city and rural areas. Demand forecasting on a small and local scale is less complex and more precise, as there are less imponderabilities, which cannot be considered in the calculation process. Direct communication between farmers and customers is another crucial element, that will establish a more efficient flow of goods and a personalized base for demand forecasting. By leaving out intermediary parties and by building a strong relationship between the system ́s autonomous actants, the market will become more consistent and cohesive for all agents in every domain. Through this inter- and intradependency we can create a self-regulating market, that has a powerful corporate identity, evoking more intense personal commitment, awareness and engagement.
As shipment distances, pesticide usage and overproduction will be minimized, the local food supply chain has very positive effects on the environmental level, regarding emissions, waste management and energy optimization. As an ignition spark for the national development of this localization of food supply, we demonstrate our infratectural planning approach in the city of Munich and its metropolitan area. We are aiming at the production of vegetational elements of the common nutrition concepts, as the inclusion of dairy and meat production, would overstep the mark and are already very complex economic phenomena in themselves. Nonetheless, the nutritional values, suggested by the federal office for nutrition and food, will be covered by our supply system. The local food supply system can work at different occupancy rates, depending on the stage/ level of emergency and inherent shortage. We can reach from a 0% to 100% food supply for Munich, due to the flexible structural character of the system.