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

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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.

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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.

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