We do it secretly, sometimes even alone at night. We celebrate it with friends. Sometimes it’s a quick bite on the go, other times a long, lazy morning at the buffet table. We consume our daily bread in many different variations, and in this issue of the Junge Akademie Magazin (JA M), we savour the opportunity to take a look at food from many different angles – literary, symbolic, musical and scientific.
We’ll think about the future of food consumption. Did you know that during the 20th century, agricultural yields grew threefold? The reason: the invention of the Haber-Bosch process. The resulting chemical fixation of nitrogen in ammonia laid the foundation for modern nitrogen fertilizer.
And yet this increase in productivity will not ensure sufficient food production in the future. In order to feed the growing world population, agricultural yields would need to double by 2050 – not to mention the demand for additional biomass-based fuels that are increasingly competing with food products. The challenge is enormous and it is time to rethink some of our habits.
Within the Junge Akademie, the Research Group ‘Sustainability’ has decided to focus more on the topic of food and agricultural practices. To mark the introduction of this new key topic, geographer Tobias Kümmerle describes how food consumption practices in Europe are changing the South American landscape of Gran Chaco. An enormous amount of food goes to waste every year, and agricultural scientist Jadwiga Ziolkowska investigates why that happens. Miriam Akkermann, who is actually a musicologist, embarks on a self-experiment and explores a kitchen and a cuisine of the future. On top of that, in this issue we address the consequences of the abolition of the ban on federal-state cooperation: What opportunities does this provide for young scholars in the German academic system? Within the ongoing public debate, we proposed the creation of federal professorships, an idea that has met with controversy both in the Junge Akademie and the wider public discussion. We hope that our contribution to the debate will go on to have more than just a theoretical impact.
The editorial team and I hope you enjoy sinking your teeth into this issue. Tobi J. Erb