Working towards a sustainable food supply

Photo: by Kate Trysh on Unsplash

Food demand is projected to significantly increase anywhere between 59% to 98% by 2050, Harvard Business Review reports. Sustainable food growth is essential for humanity’s health and survival, and the need to increase global food supplies is an urgent one. While food security is a complex issue, vast improvements can be made by being smart with our resources and working to keep the energy used in food production to a minimum — therefore causing as little harm to the land, water, and air as possible. Ultimately, eating locally-grown and organic as much as you can will be best for your body, the earth, and fellow human beings.  

The problem with energy use in food production

Energy is used to produce our food at each stage of the journey — from growth, production, processing, transportation, and handling. Some food types, however, require more energy than others. For example, conventional farming relies on fertilizers and fossil fuels, whereas organic uses solar energy. A major way energy could be used more efficiently is by changing how we use fertilizer. America uses massive quantities of fertilizer primarily on corn used for biofuel and livestock feed: it doesn’t directly benefit our food supply. Food production could increase by 30% if fertilizers were instead used on nutrient-poor soil for food production. The biggest use of energy in food production, however, is attributed to the demand for meat and dairy. Raising animals requires huge amounts of food and water, so much so that it’s been established that shifting all crops grown for animal feed to human food could increase food availability by 54%.

Organic, local produce

The solution lies in organic, local food grown without GMO seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. Fresh, local food is tastier, more nutritious, more sustainable, and supports the community. Comprise your diet mostly of whole, fresh foods and keep meat as a luxury rather than a necessity to minimize your diet-related carbon footprint. It is estimated that food supply would increase by 27% if people simply halved their meat consumption. Small farms also often harvest produce by hand, therefore avoiding the use of diesel tractors.

So, support your local farmers! Buy from them as much as you can afford to — even if it’s just a few items a week. Your dollar is your vote and by making the choice to buy sustainably-grown food you can be part of wider change to the food industry and food supply.