Big and Small Questions About Food

Our food system is depleting the earth’s resources and making us sick, even as 1 billion people around the world go hungry. It’s got to change, and it can change–so long as we don’t get distracted by small questions about food and lose sight of...


Deliver more food with less water and chemicals. In Israel, farmers generate calories using one-tenth the water used on average by the world’s farmers. By contrast, farmers in India use 10 times as much water as the average farmer. Subsidized water in the U.S. also leads to waste. “We have consumed the entire Colorado River,” Foley said. “It’s gone. One of America’s great rivers.” Similarly, some farmers use too much fertilizer, wasting energy and polluting water, and other don’t deploy enough nutrients.

Increase food delivery by reducing waste and changing diet. This means growing less corn for biofuels, throwing away less food and reducing our consumption of meat. In the Nature article, Foley and his colleagues wrote: “We can increase food availability (in terms of calories, protein and critical nutrients) by shifting crop production away from livestock feed, bioenergy crops and other non-food applications.” This where we all can make a difference by eating less meat.

What I like about Jon is the pragmatic way he thinks and talks about food.

So often the conversation about food is personal, emotional and ideological. That’s fine when it fuels the passion around food politics.

But solutions need to be driven by science, not ideology.

 

Marc Gunther is a contributing editor at FORTUNE, a senior writer at GreenBiz and a blogger at www.marcgunther.com.

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