What’s on the menu

The global food system—to put it lightly—is a mess. Although our modern agricultural system is incredibly productive, it also has some serious downsides: mass-scale water consumption, polluted ecosystems, over-farmed land, wasted food, mistreated animals and significant emissions of greenhouse gases. With the global population growing by well over a million each week, finding and testing new solutions around food will be essential to feed the world in an era of shrinking resources. But how can it change so more people are fed nutritiously and sustainably in the future?

In “The future of food,” Associate Editor Marika Bigongiari delves into these complex challenges and the opportunities for engineers to get involved. Engineers play a key role in finding solutions, just like the many ways in which they contributed to the industrialization of agriculture through the first and second industrial revolutions. This area of work is once again begging for innovation. Essentially, we need to increase our food supply to keep pace with population growth—by as much as 70 per cent by 2050, according to a 2009 United Nations report—and we need to do it in a way that is safe and sustainable in the areas of land, water and energy. Take a breath before diving in because it is a large serving of food for thought.

On a similar note, Associate Editor Michael Mastromatteo covers the controversial topic of genetically-modified foods and the role they play in the worldwide food supply. As consumers demand greater visibility into the sources and supply chain of the food they eat, regulation and labelling of these products is becoming an increasingly important element, so what is Canada’s approach?

We also know food systems are integrally related to food safety, and the scale and complexity of today’s systems contribute to the likelihood and magnitude of food-borne illness. Recalls and public concern drive the push for greater vigilance in tracing and preventing food contamination. In “Keeping our food safe,” writer Natalya Anderson speaks with professional engineers in the food industry about this critical issue and how they are using their problem-solving skills to develop effective preventative food safety control systems at all points along the food processing chain.

This issue, we also introduce you to the members of PEO Council for 2018-2019, including new President David Brown, P.Eng., BDS, C.E.T. As you’ll read in his first President’s Message, he’s putting an emphasis on PEO’s future relevance and believes that if we want to be a leader in self-regulation in Canada, we cannot continue to accept the status quo. Read more of his thoughts on page 6.

Finally, as you’ll read on page 14, Engineering Dimensions is returning to the digital version of the magazine as the default delivery method starting with the next issue. If you prefer to continue getting a hard copy in the mail, head over to the member portal at www.peo.on.ca to update your subscription preference.