“Most likely you feel such tomatoes should be organically grown, on small fields, reflecting tradition and history. You might think, this way, they accrue authenticity, honesty and truth, their production will be small-scale and preferably local."
But there is the global geopolitical challenge: the planet's population can't be fed like this. In a very real sense, the farmers' market movement is not sustainable, O Fresco argues.
“We cannot go back to the ill-designed agricultural systems of past centuries with their famines and harvest failures. We must harness science and innovation the better to feed the nine billion-plus people – mostly urban – who will be alive in 2050, doubling food and agricultural production in the process."
And the speakers at the ANZ Forum agreed.
Panellist Andrew Hamilton, client partner, Hitachi Consulting, is shepherding a huge project in Changchun in China called the “Changchun Food Safety City".
The project is supported by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and aims to develop a 10 square kilometre model production centre.
According to Hamilton, the project aims to address the increasing concerns and demands for safe agricultural and food products by consumers and to upgrade the efficiency and agricultural production and operations - improving the quality of life for thousands of low-income families around the Changchun area, yield positive impacts to local agricultural and bolster a more sustainable local economy.
In a sense, this is an organic farmer and his or her market on a global scale: “The objective of the project is to successfully develop a showcase and centre of excellence for agricultural industry optimisation and upgrading, based on an integrated environmentally-friendly organic agriculture production process, with an end to end safety monitoring and traceability process for the entire food production value-chain."
If it works, Hamilton says, it can be a model for elsewhere in China and other developing countries.
For Frederik Groth, chief executive Asia for ADM Asia-Pacific Trading, the challenges, if not the answers, are clear: the global population is growing, as countries develop they demand higher quality food and more protein, and the current global system cannot deliver it.
“We have to be realistic," he says.
Louise O Fresco is President of Wageningen University and Research Centre in The Netherlands