Dirk Knemeyer

Future of Home, June 30, 2016

You know, I’ve lived in big cities. I’ve lived in the country. I’ve lived in suburbs. I’ve lived in many different orientations. You really lose something in high-density environments. You just do. There’s a higher level of stress. It’s tough, and now having just moved from a high density environment into a really nice wilderness type environment. In a suburb, but on an acre of wooded land in a low density area. The quality of life is night and day. The stress level on a daily basis is lower. The appreciation of nature and feeling part of a bigger ecosystem of the world. You know, being able to make choices about noise and light, and not have other people imposed upon those, because you happen to be close to each other.

I think the migration into big cities that’s happening as the world changes is one that’s really bad for the human animal. The time horizon’s longer. It’s decades, not years, but probably not centuries either, where I think that’s going to flow the other way. There’s lots of land that nobody’s living in. You know, 90 percent of Canada, 90 percent of Russia.

Urbanity & Agriculture, June 9, 2016

There’s a lot of unknowns in terms of a future that would theoretically require urban agriculture, and so what I mean by that is we don’t know exactly how the world is going to change as a virtue of global warming, which is the most likely cataclysmic event that will significantly change the ways in which we live. There’s a lot of scenarios of how it can go. I mean, many people envision a future of mega cities because that’s in line with what we’ve seen happening, which is to say, as you mentioned, more and more people are in cities every year. These urban agriculture solutions are being envisioned, but depending on how things go, it may be that instead of trying to build up, we build out.

Building up is expensive, so to build a high rise requires a tremendous amount of carbon emission. There’s no two ways about it. From the materials, to the construction, the whole nine yards, and that’s happening while we have a majority of Canada, a majority of Russia, a majority of China. I’m talking about the largest countries in the world, a majority of them are wide open space. I think there’s an open question of whether the future is one of up, not out, because if we move into the open space that is out, it’s far cheaper. You don’t need steel, and concrete, and these other modern building materials in order to house and sustain people, basically.

Providing food, providing agriculture is not a hobby thing, at the current level of agricultural technology. I mean, it’s a profession. It’s something that you have to put a significant amount of time into, have a significant amount of expertise, and have the correct supplies and knowledge. So many things that we idealize as being part of this Utopian urban future, imagine in hobbyist ways, simply aren’t hobbyist things.

These are things that, yes, they need to be local, yes, they need to be integrated, but that doesn’t mean that Tom, Dick, and Harry, to use the traditional and male focused list of generic names, as part of their day, screw around with their little in-house agriculture, and “ta-da,” there’s going to be food there. Maybe someday, but certainly not now. I mean, this is something that requires real professional people putting significant amount of time into to realize.

The Future of Food Choice, August 6, 2015

We’ll see about the 3D printing of food. Another macro issue, of course, is global warming and the environmental challenges from burning fossil fuels. A century from now, we will no longer have trucks driving from one state to the next, one destination to the next, planes flying with food. As long as those type of vehicles are burning fossil fuels to accomplish those trips, either there’s going to be a massive change in technology that enables transportation of goods that aren’t really required, that are really surplus and luxury for the most part, that enables them to be transferred, traveled around for our whim.

I like Shark brand sriracha from Southeast Asia. I like Arizona Gunslinger hot sauce from Arizona. I like Alaskan wild salmon. There’s going to have to be a massive change in how vehicles are powered for us to continue having those kind of foods. Will that be realized or not? I don’t know. I’m not enough of an expert in power. The fact that we don’t see anything certainly isn’t a good sign after a century of burning the hell out of oil and even longer than that if we’re thinking about the burning of coal which preceded it.

There could be these other macro things that are forcing us down a path of 3D printed food, that it needs to be something akin to astronaut ice cream as opposed to akin to the real solid foods that we have today. What does that look like? I don’t know. I think the main determining factor is going to be, are we able to transport luxury goods hither and thither as we do today? That’s going to be a question of power generation and who knows, who knows.