The Future of Sustainable Food Production Requires Combining Traditional and Tech, says Amanda Little.

Amanda Little, a professor of journalism and science writing at Vanderbilt University, recently presented a TED talk on the fragility of the global food system and the solutions communities are developing in response.

Little argues that the food system is not designed to adapt to major disruptions like COVID-19 and climate change. But, she says, farmers, entrepreneurs, and academics are rethinking food systems to forge a new path forward.

Through her research, Little explains that she learned about traditional farming methods such as permaculture and the use of Native plants as well as new technologies like CRISPR and vertical farming. She acknowledges that there are skeptics to each approach, but argues that the future of a sustainable food system depends on bringing these different ideas together.

“Can’t there be a synthesis of the two approaches?” Little asks. “Our challenge is to borrow from the wisdom of the ages and from our most advanced science to forge this third way, one that allows us to improve and scale our harvests while restoring rather than degrading the underlying web of life.”

Little believes that this strategy offers hope for a more robust and resilient food system that will benefit both human and planetary health.

“The upshot is this,” Little concludes. “Human innovation that marries old and new approaches to food production can, and I believe will, usher in this third way and redefine sustainable food on a grand scale.”

Photo courtesy of Ian Stewart

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