How can technology make the food system better

The shock of the virus’s first wave exposed the inner workings of our interconnected system of food creation and delivery—and its weak spots—to many of us who’d never given it a second thought. That system is, of course, a result of decades’ worth of technological advances, from globe-spanning shipping and refrigeration networks to commodity markets (running on high-speed internet and massive cloud-computing infrastructure) that provide the capital to make it all run. There may yet be more unpleasant surprises in store for millions of people around the world as the pandemic plays out. But this moment offers us an opportunity to examine how we got to this point, and how to change things for the better.

The cost of growth 

Simply put, the modern food system is a product of the forces inherent in free-­market capitalism. Decisions on where to invest in technological research and where to apply its fruits have been guided by…

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