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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 11, @04:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the Betteridge-says-"No" dept.

Can We Feed Billions of Ourselves Without Wrecking the Planet?

We are now producing more food more efficiently than ever, and there is plenty to go around for a human population of 7 billion. But it is coming at a drastic cost in environmental degradation, and the bounty is not reaching many people.

Sustainable Food Production, a new Earth Institute primer from Columbia University Press, explores how modern agriculture can be made more environmentally benign, and economically just. With population going to maybe 10 billion within 30 years, the time to start is now, the authors say.

The lead author is ecologist Shahid Naeem, director of the Earth Institute for Environmental Sustainability. He coauthored the book with former Columbia colleagues Suzanne Lipton and Tiff van Huysen.

This is an interesting interview with the author. Do you agree (or disagree) with his conclusions?

Columbia Climate School

[Also Covered By]: Phys.org


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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @02:22AM (3 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @02:22AM (#1211998) Journal
    On the feed versus food issue, it's worth remembering that this is a classist viewpoint: the elite eat food, the hoi polloi eat feed. But if we look at the history of food, we see evolution of this division over time with what was previously considered "feed" to food and vice versa. For example, meat, especially of the exotic sort, was considered to be elite food, even some weird and very gamey stuff that we wouldn't touch today. Those chicken nuggets would be considered very fancy meat. It's only their cheapness and widespread availability that has reduced them to your category of "feed".

    For another example, lobster [knowledgenuts.com] at one time was considered a poverty food. Now, it's a luxury food. All due to marketing - and not eating it every day.

    For a final example, dishes with considerable starches (pasta, maize, rice, bread, etc) were formerly considered poverty food. But they moved to the elite side with better seasoning and cooking techniques.

    The problem here is that food versus feed really is a matter of presentation/marketing and perhaps preparation/seasoning not of nutrition.
  • (Score: 2) by legont on Thursday January 13, @11:45PM (2 children)

    by legont (4179) on Thursday January 13, @11:45PM (#1212544)

    I beg to differ.

    Chicken nuggets have no chicken inside so they are definitely feed.
    Lobster is junk as it's a bottom feeder and therefore dangerous. Similarly tuna is feed as well as salmon. There were revolts during the Great Depression when people wanted steaks but were fed salmon and tuna. The propaganda changed it but it did not change the nature of the food. After all, Bill Gates eats greasy burgers with Buffet.
    Don't even start me on American Italian. It's pretty much all feed. The reason is that American starches are very bad ever since they invented hands free bread.

    So my point is that while feed moves up and down the hype ladder, the nature does not change much. Also, while some feed becomes expensive, no food ever became cheap. Anyway, one is still better off with a steak, oven baked bread and fresh garden veggies. They, however, are not available for 90% of the population and never will be unless we reduce the pressure.

    --
    "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 14, @05:36AM (1 child)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14, @05:36AM (#1212616) Journal

      Also, while some feed becomes expensive, no food ever became cheap.

      Counterexample: meat.