Toggle Nav

World Wildlife Magazine

In-Depth

Rethinking Food

Today one of the biggest threats to our planet comes from the production of food. If we don’t get the where and how of food production right over the next 40 years,

Our quest to feed a growing global population is having a huge impact. Each year, 7.2 billion people consume 1.5 times what the earth’s natural resources can continue to provide. In short, our planet simply can’t replenish itself fast enough to meet expanding human needs.

That's not all. Paired with the environmental losses are questions of distribution and waste. While current food production actually provides enough food, not all of it reaches those who need it. About 1.3 billion tons are wasted each year—four times the amount needed to feed the more than 800 million people who suffer from malnutrition.

Compound that with a growing population and those numbers should make us all stand up and take notice. By 2050, our planet will need to support more than 2 billion additional people, many of whom are expected to consume twice as many resources per capita—that's food, clothes and transportation—as they do now. Already, we are almost literally eating the planet. And it's only getting worse.

The terrible truth is that in the next 40 years we will have to produce more food to feed more people—all without expanding production beyond the land and water already pressed into service on our behalf. We can't double the amount of land used for producing food; we must double the net amount of food available instead.

By improving efficiency and productivity while reducing waste and shifting consumption patterns, we can produce enough food for all on roughly the same amount of land we use now. On a finite planet, we can't afford business as usual. We must do more with less. We have to freeze the footprint of food.

And we've got to start doing it now.

What I've learned about food and sustainability

Go to Story

Nine Areas of Attack Together we just might crack the code to maintain a living planet

At WWF, we have identified nine areas of attack that could produce or save enough food for all and still maintain a living planet. None is big enough on its own. Together, we just might crack the code.

Woman carrying baby and DNA

Nature 2.0: Putting a Stop To Stunting

African Orphan Crops Consortium tackles nutrition

For most of my career, I’ve been leveraging genetics to make plants more productive. But it wasn’t until I heard an eye-opening lecture about something called “stunting” that I recognized the power of genomics to impact nutrition.

Continue reading
Zebra

Soil Carbon: A Scientist Makes a Bold Guarantee

Holistically Managed Livestock Can Bring Back Our Grasslands

Most people believe that degradation is caused by having too many animals on the land. But overgrazing actually is prevented by timing, not by reducing animals. With a holistically managed grazing plan, I guarantee improvement—social, economic and environmental.

Continue reading
Cow

More With Less: Nature-Inspired Advances

Shrinking dairy’s footprint with every gallon of milk

Over the last 70 years, the US dairy industry has decreased both carbon emissions and the use of water by nearly two-thirds. In 2008, we committed to further decrease our greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020, embracing sustainability across the entire value chain in a pre-competitive approach.

Continue reading
Salmon in a circle

Better Practices: A Market Transformed

Sparks fly when a speech ignites salmon CEOs

In August 2013, 15 major salmon farm companies, representing 70% of global production, formed the Global Salmon Initiative. They committed to having 100% of their salmon farms meet the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Salmon Standard by 2020.

Continue reading
Food waste

Waste: Sustainability without a Blueprint

A chef’s common-sense approach to nimble innovation

As a chef for nearly 30 years, I’ve seen food trends come and go. Today, many chefs are supporting food sustainability in a big way. But this isn’t a trend: it’s the future.

Continue reading
Malian woman

Property Rights: A River Changes Course

Securing property rights for women in Mali

Under the Alatona Irrigation Project, Malian citizens gained ownership of land for the first time. It was an unprecedented step in rural Mali. And one of our top priorities was to ensure that women had land rights.

Continue reading
Farmers in China

Consumption: From Bok Choy to Banquets

On the front lines of food security in China

Today, China has about one-fifth of the world’s population, but only 7% of the Earth’s arable land and fresh water. How do we feed that many people with such limited resources?

Continue reading
Hoes and urban landscape

Urban Agriculture: Fertile Ground for Community Growth

Urban agriculture sprouts in the Motor City

In Detroit city gardens, about 90% of the food produced—some 200 tons of produce—remains at the household or community level. That’s our pipeline for changing Detroit’s access to healthy food at affordable rates.

Continue reading
Hoes and rural landscape

Degraded Land: Holding the Line on Brazil’s Resources

Shifting from cattle to crops optimizes land use

If we convert half the area occupied by ranching in Brazil—about 500 million acres—to efficient farming, we can harvest two to three times our current food production. And current meat production can be easily maintained if good standards are adopted.

Continue reading

Explore More

About
World Wildlife magazine provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the connections between animals, people and our planet. Published quarterly by WWF, the magazine helps make you a part of our efforts to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the natural world.

View all issues

xHelp Improve this Site

Just 20 minutes of your time can help improve this site. By participating in a quick activity, you can help us make worldwildlife.org even better.

Start SurveyClose this box