I don't see this as a rallying call for vegans
some land is best used as pasture for animals
some land is best as forest and other woody perrenials
most "planted" annual crops should be primarily for human consumption
with residue, rejects, insect damaged, etc, recycled through animals
in other words, permaculture practices could save the world
now we just need some young, energetic, engaged (as opposed to hermit), permies
to show the way
Worldwide demand for crops is increasing rapidly due to global population growth, increased biofuel production, and changing dietary preferences. Meeting these growing demands will be a substantial challenge that will tax the capability of our food system and prompt calls to dramatically boost global crop production. However, to increase food availability, we may also consider how the world's crops are allocated to different uses and whether it is possible to feed more people with current levels of crop production. Of particular interest are the uses of crops as animal feed and as biofuel feedstocks. Currently, 36% of the calories produced by the world's crops are being used for animal feed, and only 12% of those feed calories ultimately contribute to the human diet (as meat and other animal products). Additionally, human-edible calories used for biofuel production increased fourfold between the years 2000 and 2010, from 1% to 4%, representing a net reduction of available food globally. In this study, we re-examine agricultural productivity, going from using the standard definition of yield (in tonnes per hectare, or similar units) to using the number of people actually fed per hectare of cropland. We find that, given the current mix of crop uses, growing food exclusively for direct human consumption could, in principle, increase available food calories by as much as 70%, which could feed an additional 4 billion people (more than the projected 2–3 billion people arriving through population growth). Even small shifts in our allocation of crops to animal feed and biofuels could significantly increase global food availability, and could be an instrumental tool in meeting the challenges of ensuring global food security.
It is theoretically possible to feed 10 people per acre, or 20 people per hectare.* Total amount of agricultural land on Earth approximately 5 billion hectares. So there is more than enough land to feed everyone, but much of it is degraded or used poorly. John Liu has pointed out that when most of the land is put toward ecosystem services, the smaller amount of farm land increases in productivity.
I have often daydreamed about ranking my crops on a "nutrition scale". The ranking would be made on some kind of scale like CRDA (Composite Recommended Daily Allowance) per square foot. Where the CRDA would be a composite of the vitamins, minerals, and macro-nutrients known to be required for human nutrition. I'm guessing that something like snap beans would score low, and something like carrots would have a high score.
Since I have started paying attention to the nutrients in food, I have noticed that a small amount of a particular food can contribute several days RDA for a particular vitamin. I've been paying more attention to growing and eating higher quantities of those crops.
I posted what I thought was an encouraging study
(much along the lines of Mark Shepard's ideas)
that is taking place in mainstream
this just showed up
from Geoff's "Friday 5"
Diversity > efficiency: Article in the Guardian earlier this week argued that innovations and better methods in crop-breeding are good short-term solutions, but may be counterproductive if they blind us to what it is really needed long-term: agricultural diversity. Hmmm.....where have we heard that before?
Modern agriculture cultivates climate change – we must nurture biodiversity
both the study I posted and the guardian article are talking about "permaculture' without specifically using that word
my point is that despite the angst on the "the solution is simple" thread the principles behind "permaculture" are spreading