Cyndi's Two Cents

Feeding the growing global population


The most recent figures from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) show that one U.S. farm feeds 166 people annually in the U.S. and abroad. The global population today is about 7.9 billion. People much smarter than I, who have researched these things, expect that number will grow by 2.2 billion within the next 30 years.  According to AFBF, that means the world’s farmers will have to grow about 70% more food than what is currently produced.

There are those who challenge this conclusion, or at least the part of the conclusion that predicts farmers will be growing the food. There are those who believe that to “protect our natural resources and the environment” we must give up the notion that food comes from a living animal or plant.  This contingent believes that “manufactured” or lab produced food will be widely accepted by consumers bent on “saving the planet”.

Another contingent believes the best way to “save the planet” is to limit the consumption of meat. Plant-based proteins are their solution.

Organic production practices have grown in popularity. USDA defines this as “a system that integrates cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”

I would be preaching to the choir if I wasted precious space in this column describing all the farming practices, tools, and technologies many farmers have employed over time to protect the land, water, and air in their care. I would be lying if I said all farmers felt a responsibility to steward the resources necessary to grow their crops or raise their livestock. There is a bad apple in every barrel, but a farmer who is a bad actor is most certainly an exception to the norm.

There are many factors that influence any person’s food choices: personal preference, ethnicity, appetite, time & convenience, and perhaps the ultimate determining factor – personal income/price. Many people do have a greater interest in where their food comes from and how it was grown. Many do prefer “sustainable” and “natural” foods.  However, that preference isn’t always reflected in their buying behavior.

If the global population is going to grow as projected; if the average caloric intake which from a low of 2500 in India to a high of 3800 in the United States is to be sustained; we will need all the food production avenues.

I’m personally not in favor of meat “cultivated” in a laboratory, but when it comes to farming practices, I think there is a place for everyone. I believe diversity in production practices is a good thing, as long as your practices are ethical, and you aren’t spreading misinformation to attract consumers. 

Marketing is good.  Lying is not.

Conventional, organic, large, small, and everything in between is okay in my book if you are doing what you know is right on your farm every day.

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