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This page is about edible food crops being burned for energy (not within the human body).
See also biomass waste for a page on using the inedible parts for energy.


Major problem

It takes land to grow crops. Agriculture already uses more land than all other human activity combined. To make room for more agriculture, forests and other natural habitats would be destroyed. The environmental impacts are far worse than the small amount of fossil fuel consumption avoided.

Food loss

Major problem

Biofuels shrink the global food supply, leading to higher food prices and more global hunger. The poorest of the poor are the first to suffer. Biofuels aren't currently harming the food supply as badly as food waste/loss and some types of animal farming - but they would if they were to be scaled up. One better alternative is to use biomass waste instead of edible biofuels (but the energy supply is similarly limited).


Major limitation

Even if we burned[i]Meaning literally burn as fuel for energy in machines. Not "burn" in the sense of exercising the human body. more food than we eat, it still wouldn't even replace 8% of fossil fuel consumption:

A food calorie.
Hopefully this alternative spelling can help settle some confusion. Because historically, the word "calorie" actually refers to a much smaller unit. 1 food calorie is technically 1000 "small calories" by that definition. That's why it's sometimes called a "kilocalorie" or a "kcal". A typical human diet is 2000 kcal/day, but most people just say "2000 Calories/day". If you write "kilocalories", you might confuse the newbies, but if you write "calories", you might confuse the nerds. If you write "Calories" (uppercase C), you'd be technically correct but most people don't pay attention to capitalization. So, the best option is to write "kalories". The "k" is there to acknowledge the "kilo" without the awkwardness of saying "kilo".
8 billion
Number of people alive today, globally
Last updated in 2023
11596.92 Mtoe/year
Total consumption of coal, oil, and natural gas (worldwide)
Key World Energy Statistics 2020 (IEA report)
- page 47: World energy balance, 2018
- - Total Energy Supply (TES), first 4 columns combined

3000 kalories/day * world.population % (calculation loading)