Food

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The world currently struggles to feed everyone sustainably. But this doesn't have to be the case. There are enough resources to feed our growing population - if resources are used efficiently & ethically.

Problems

Current food-related problems include:

  • About 829 million people lack calories or protein (1 in 10 people worldwide).
  • Even more people lack vitamins & minerals, even if they get enough calories & protein.
  • Environmental impact
  • Animal cruelty
  • Particularly bad in factory farms, which are the source of most animal products.


These problems are magnified by inefficiency:

The world produces more than double the amount of food crops needed to feed everyone. But after all the waste, losses, and animal agriculture, there isn't enough food left to go around; people still go hungry.

Read the exact numbers here.

Solutions

Efficiency

Even without any fundamental changes to food production, we can still end hunger and habitat loss by reducing any of the inefficiencies in the diagram above.
What this means in practice:

These actions require both personal changes and systemic changes.

Farming practices

Anything that increases crop yields will also help end hunger and habitat loss, in the same way as above. However, we don't want practices that increase yields in the short term if they decrease yields in the long term this is typically caused by soil depletion or pollution. Even in extreme circumstances where people are urgently starving, it still probably wouldn't make sense to opt for "short term gain, long term pain" farming. A better option would be to import (or receive food aid) and in the long term, restore local farm land so it can get high yields again.

Things this page needs more information on:

  • Just how bad are current farming practices, in terms of long-term yields?
  • Would switching from monoculture to polyculture improve total yields could be measured by calories, protein, or dry mass while needing less pesticide? If so, is there a tradeoff? Perhaps an increase in labor - if so, by how much?
  • Regenerative agriculture: could its yields be as high as current farming practices?
  • Suburban farming & gardening: Best case, how much of the world's food could it produce?
  • How much fertilizer is fundamentally needed, to achieve high crop yields on a global scale?

Join the discussion and help build this page!

Techy solutions

Things that won't be viable for at least another decade:

Things that are semi-viable:

Things that aren't much better than the status quo:

  • Insect farming - the food efficiency is still not any better than plant-based. If insects are fed food waste, it still begs the question as to why that food was wasted in the first place.

Things that probably won't ever be viable:

  • Vertical farming - needs too much energy - thus could never supply the world's calories or protein; best case, could provide a few fresh herbs in the city.
  • Solein - needs too many materials (per unit of food production) - and it's unlikely for this to be solved enough in the future.

Bottom line

All 8 billion people could be well-fed & healthy, without destroying the planet, and without anywhere near as much harm to animals. But all of this requires both personal changes and systemic changes.