Food Spoilage, Storage, and Transport: Implications for a Sustainable Future

Sean T. Hammond, James H. Brown, Joseph R. Burger, Tatiana P. Flanagan, Trevor S. Fristoe, Norman Mercado-Silva, Jeffrey C. Nekola, Jordan G. Okie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations

Abstract

Human societies have always faced temporal and spatial fluctuations in food availability. The length of time that food remains edible and nutritious depends on temperature, moisture, and other factors that affect the growth rates of organisms that cause spoilage. Some storage techniques, such as drying, salting, and smoking, date back to ancient hunter-gatherer and early agricultural societies and use relatively low energy inputs. Newer technologies developed since the industrial revolution, such as canning and compressed-gas refrigeration, require much greater energy inputs. Coincident with the development of storage technologies, the transportation of food helped to overcome spatial and temporal fluctuations in productivity, culminating in today's global transport system, which delivers fresh and preserved foods worldwide. Because most contemporary humans rely on energy-intensive technologies for storing and transporting food, there are formidable challenges for feeding a growing and increasingly urbanized global population as finite supplies of fossil fuels rapidly deplete.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-768
Number of pages11
JournalBioScience
Volume65
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 29 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Malthusian-Darwinian dynamic
  • food security
  • human macroecology
  • sustainability
  • technological innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences

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