To feed 10 billion people by 2050 we will need to double our current food supply.
To meet the growing demand under our current diets and food systems, we would have to clear most of the world’s forests, empty the oceans, and use all of our fresh water reserves - which is currently happening. 😱
Feeding the world without destroying our planet will require nothing short of a new agricultural & cultural revolution - with us eating a lot less meat and animal products.
The resources required to raise animals and process them into food products is significantly higher than the resources required to produce most plant-based foods.
By using more than their 'fair share', animal-based foods are a form of redistribution that increase food scarcity & political instability, especially in low-income countries.
Valuable land which could be used for growing more efficient crops, or left to drawdown carbon & support critical ecosystems that support life, is instead used to produce more animal products.
Many of these animal products are exported and consumed by the world’s most privileged people, leaving the most vulnerable communities without adequate access to healthy food.
Of the world’s almost 8 billion people, nearly 10% - an estimated 768 million of us - were counted as undernourished in 2020.
Farming animals is an extremely inefficient way to produce food.
By 2050 we will have lost half of the worlds farmland to intensive farming, urban sprawl, mining, recreation, toxic pollution and rising sea levels.
At the same time we will have to double current food supply to meet demand.
The worlds oceans are being overfished, a diminishing supply of fish will put more pressure on land based protein sources, and ecourage intensive farming.
Optimising food production
It will also require a global shift toward more plant based diets and huge reductions in food loss and waste, both of which will reduce pressure on the land and allow farmers to do more with what they have available.
Eating healthy in a food desert
Nearly 40 million people across the United States live in neighborhoods like East New York without easy access to healthy, fresh food. It's not just that there aren't enough supermarkets - the problem is systemic and rooted in structural racism.
Today, black neighborhoods have fewer supermarkets and more fast food joints than white neighborhoods, something that can't be explained away by income.
What causes world hunger?
World leaders have promised to end hunger by 2030, but greater political will is required to end conflict to make sure food is both available and evenly distributed. And to support people in times of need.
Rather than sending stocks of cereal to the poorest countries in massive quantities, efforts are often better directed to help vulnerable people to develop their own full production and distribution.
Support with soil, water and irrigation, tools & technology, and access to quality seeds in the quantities needed is critical to ending world hunger.
How to feed the world
By choosing a dish of lentils instead of steak, we consume a fraction of the farming land and fresh water, leaving more for others.
So how can we feed the world? It's tricky as the factors at work are political, economic, ecological and scientific.
We have to work together to solve this puzzle, and unless we find a spare planet to rear cows on, the solution also lies in changing our eating habits - i.e. changing whats on our plates.
Food in a changing climate
Today, on a planet that grows sufficient food for all, a billion people go hungry, another billion over consume increasing risks of chronic diseases, and one third of all food harvested is lost or wasted.
Climate change will bring us toward, and perhaps over critical food security thresholds in many regions. Areas currently sufferring from food insecurity will be hit worst.
The path our world takes in the future depends on the choices we make now.
Focus on reducing food waste
Roughly 40% of the food we produce never gets eaten. While we are busy throwing out perfectly good food, many people don't have access to healthy foods.
All this wasted food is a huge contributor to climate change. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases just behind China and the United States.
Feeding the world in the 21st century will require not only a global shift to plant-rich diets, but also huge reductions in food loss and waste.
Why are we subsidising the wrong foods?
Fresh fruit & vegetables are essential for a healthy diet, but many people are not eating enough of them, and part of the problem is cost. Governments don't subsidise leafy green vegetable crops in the same way they subsidises wheat, soy and corn.
So farmers grow a lot more of these 'government guaranteed' crops - which results in a huge supply of processed products full of high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil which have an unfair advantage when it comes to cost.
- Nourishing people, saving animals - A Well Fed World
- Scarcity versus distribution - A Well Fed World
- Global hunger numbers and meanings - A Well Fed World
- Major challenges to food production - Oxfam
- Food companies unprepared for global water crisis - The Guardian
- Water related diseases - The World Health Organisation
- Circles of compassion - essays connecting issues of justice
- Food Policy Report - International Food Policy Research Institute