Skip the meat and wine, pass the root vegetables (all 7+ billion of you)

I don’t seriously think this is a solution, but if you’re in a climate where sweet potatoes can be grown, they’d be a valuable addition to your home garden.

Will Oremus. 12 Jun 2012. I Think, Therefore I Yam When farmland is scarce, will we all eat roots and tubers?

Since Thomas Malthus, alarmists have been pointing out that the world has a finite amount of arable land, whereas its human population keeps growing. Common sense would seem to dictate that eventually there won’t be enough farmland to feed everyone, and catastrophic famine will ensue.

The incredible pace of technological innovation has staved off that eventuality for hundreds of years,…Yet the world’s food future may be shakier than ever. It’s not because of the absolute number of people or even the amount of available farmland, but because of what those people eat and how that farmland is used. In short, there’s enough land to feed the world—but not enough to feed the world Big Macs. That’s a problem: every pound of edible beef takes 20 pounds of grain to produce. Give a man a 12-ounce porterhouse and you feed him for a day; give him a pound of grain and you can feed a dozen other people for a day, too. (Raising meat also requires five to 10 times as much water as growing grains, using up a resource that may prove even scarcer than land.)

In a 2009 study, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that production would have to rise 70% by 2050 to meet the world’s needs.  Even if we developed all of the world’s remaining arable land—much of it in Brazil and other Latin American countries—we’d have to wring twice as much productivity from every acre of land under cultivation, not likely because of declining water resources and  intensive farming practices are degrading the world’s topsoil, raising the possibility that usable farmland will actually become scarcer in future decades. Climate change could exacerbate the problem, as droughts turn what today is arable land into desert. (Taking off on the concept of “peak oil,” agriculture alarmists have labeled this specter “peak soil“).

If that happens, people may have little choice but to eat less meat. What would they eat instead? Vegetables are crucial to nutrition, but they aren’t the most potent energy sources. Grains are better, but … they’re not at the top of the list in terms of the amount of nutrition they provide per unit of land. That honor goes to roots and tubers like garlic, sunchokes, and sweet potatoes.

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