National Geographic Five Step Plan to Feed the World

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Earth Sandwich Jonathan Foley recently led a team of scientists with the goal of coming up with a plan to feed 9 billion Earthlings while also cutting the environmental damage caused by agriculture. I humbly suggest you read the whole article, but here’s a brief synopsis (or a “TLDR”, for the Internet generation) of the Five Step Plan to Feed the World.

1. Stop Agriculture’s Expansion

People have cleared an area about the size of South America for farming, and an area about the size of Africa for livestock. Holy guacamole! Instead of clearing even more land, we need to make better, more efficient use of the agricultural land we already have, and leave some tropical rainforest left alone.

2. Boost Food Production on Farms

Increase yields in less-productive farmlands (in much of the developing world) using a mix of organic farming and high-tech techniques.

3. More Efficient Resource Usage

By using cover crop, compost, and mulch we can reduce the need for more water and chemical fertilizers. We can also use drip irrigation to minimize water loss, and fertilizers tailored to the soil type.

4. Change diets

This one’s the easiest to do, but requires convincing tons of people to eat less meat. For every 100 calories of grain we feed livestock, we only get about 3 calories worth of beef. Even if you don’t go full-on vegetarian, just switching from beef to chicken (or fish) considerably lowers how much crops you’re using.

5. Reduce Waste!

A point near and dear to EcoJoe’s heart. Up to 50 percent of total food (by weight) is lost or wasted before it can be consumed. That’s a HUGE waste! We can make a difference by eating and ordering smaller portions, eating leftovers, and getting cafeterias and restaurants to come up with waste-reducing plans.

Let all them points marinate in your brain for a bit; I know I will. If you’d like more details on this (and other food-related issues), you might want to check out a certain magazine.

National Geographic, that paragon of journalistic excellence, has recently embarked on an eight-month series all about how the Earth can feed the estimated 9 billion people that’ll live here by 2050.

P.S. Alert Redditor teeohdeedee123 suggested that people eating more insects could help cut feed people while cutting down on the environmental impact of food… an intriguing idea, to be sure.

Posted in food on Sunday, July 27th, 2014 at 9:48 AM.

2 Responses to “National Geographic Five Step Plan to Feed the World”

  1. Erik Pitoniak

    Green Thinking for the Average Joe ยป Blog Archive National Geographic Five Step Plan to Feed the World – Green Thinking for the Average Joe

  2. Site says:

    Agricultural expansion is ruining ecosystems; but often these newly created areas are used to produce cattle, timber, palm oil and feed for livestock, rather than food for people. We must avoid further deforestation for farmland. Curbing agricultural expansion is not enough. We need to restore existing, depleted farmland to increase biodiversity (and maintain yields in the future) and also redefine how much of our farmland is used – crop monocultures, which are mainly grown for animal feed, need to be replaced with more nutritious crops for human consumption.

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