The headline of a Washington Post blog post screamed global food crisis: “This terrifying chart shows we’re not growing enough food to feed the world.”
The Global Food Crisis Is Here!
OMG! I clicked through right away. I was (somewhat) relieved to see a reasonable post about a recent study in the journal PLOS ONE finding that crop yields haven’t been rising at a sufficient pace to meet projected demand by 2050. The chart in question (see right), shows exactly that; crop yields of maize, rice, wheat and soybeans haven’t been rising at a sufficient pace to meet projected demand. Not actually terrifying, but this chart shows an impending food crisis trend that is certainly alarming.
The world must solve three food problems simultaneously: end hunger, double food production by 2050, and do both while drastically reducing agriculture’s damage to the environment.
Foley then lays out five tactics:
- Slow and ultimately stop the expansion of agriculture, particularly into tropical forests and savannas — by, for instance, shifting away from crop-based biofuels.
- Focus on boosting productivity of farms that have the lowest yields – in particular, across many parts of Africa, Central America and eastern Europe.
- Use water and fertilizer more efficiently worldwide.
- Reduce the amount of meat in our diets – “We can dramatically increase global food availability and environmental sustainability by using more of our crops to feed people directly and less to fatten livestock.”
- Reduce the amount of food waste worldwide.
The blog concludes with Foley’s sad but true insight :
“Feeding nine billion people in a truly sustainable way will be one of the greatest challenges our civilization has ever faced.”
Food crisis photo: Shutterstock.com