What We're Into: How to Feed the World

Photo by Flickr user Noel Pennington

As the world population grows, an increasingly important question being asked is how we are going to feed all of its inhabitants. The seemingly obvious answer is to simply grow more food, but as Mark Bittman writes in the New York Times, that is not necessarily the best solution to the problem. As Bittman writes, we are actually producing enough calories to feed the entire world at its current population (about seven billion), as well as its projected population of nine billion, which we are expected to reach by 2050.

So what’s an increasingly crowded world to do? “Better, it would seem,” says Bittman, “would be to ask not how much food is produced, but how it’s produced, for whom, at what price, cost and benefit.”

He goes on to talk about how localized, small-scale farming would be able to feed people all over the world more efficiently, in part because so many of the calories created by industrial farming are used for other things besides human sustenance, such as fuel or animal feed. Smaller farms, with knowledgeable farmers tending the land, would be able to feed local communities the world over, all while using the land in a more sustainable way and creating less waste and pollution as well.

The best part about this plan is that it promotes healthier eating, which helps to alleviate both ends of the malnutrition spectrum: hunger and obesity. Supporting small-scale farmers closer to home boosts the local economy and causes more thought to go into what you eat and where it comes from. It also reduces your dependency on food coming from the other side of the world. 

While there probably isn't a blanket solution to the issue of global hunger, these ideas are certainly on the right track, and are a great way to dive into and become more educated on the topic.