How do we avoid eating our way to the planet’s last supper?
We find ourselves in a paradoxical situation. We must feed this growing population, but our current food system poses a mounting threat to the environment that supports it. The food sector has significant responsibility for driving the environment beyond planetary boundaries, the safe operating space we should stay within to avert large-scale and abrupt environmental degradation. The earth is theoretically capable of feeding 10 billion people, but not the way we do it today. If our ecosystems collapse, we face a future without food.
Despite some positive trends, too much of our food system is wasteful, polluting, or toxic – impacting air, land and water.
Agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than any other sector besides industry (at least 25% of the global emissions) – and moving foodstuffs across the globe only exacerbates the problem. What’s worse, one-third of all food produced is lost along the food-chain or goes to waste (representing 9% of the greenhouse emissions). The amount of greenhouse gas emissions from food waste corresponds to about two-thirds of what is emitted by the entire USA, the second-largest country emitter in the world, after China.
Animal husbandry uses more land (including fodder and pasture) than any other sector on the planet. And as meat consumption continues to rise, especially in developing economies, more and more land is turned over to it.