Right now enough food is produced for everyone on Earth to be fed adequately. Yet every night over 2 billion people go to bed hungry because they cannot afford to buy the food they need.
• Increases in grain production, brought about by irrigation and synthetic fertilizer-pesticide inputs, have peaked and begun declining. The caloric value of food per person continues to rise, but the rate of increase has slowed in recent years.
• In modern economies more energy is used to produce food than is contained in the food itself. Studies show that industrial nations use 10+ calories of fossil fuel energy to put 1 food calorie on the typical family’s table.
• Food is produced for “the market” rather than to fill human needs, Many go hungry, while billions of dollars are spent to subsidize growers to produce foods that richer people can pay for.
• Productive agricultural land is being lost to sprawling cities, erosion and farming methods that deplete the soil. Even though thousands of acres of forests are destroyed every day and turned into farmland, they do not replace the growing capacity of the lands being lost.
• Climate change may ultimately be the biggest threat to feeding the human family. Deserts are being created, floods are increasing, growing seasons are changing, snow pack and glacial ice is decreasing in critical areas. Overall, while “warming” might seem like it would increase food, studies show that less food can be produced on a warmer planet.
• People all over the world are making conscious choices about what kind of food they buy. This market pressure is causing food producers to change their practices and adopt sustainable practices.
• More food per acre can be grown using methods closer to natural ecosystems. These methods are beginning to replace the “mono-culture” methods that depend on high energy inputs.
• Local food production and distribution is the fastest growing sector of the food economy. Farmers’ markets, urban gardens, community supported agriculture co-ops, local labeling ordinances are expanding rapidly.
Read on to learn more about how you can help to grow a sustainable food system.