The world just reached (and flew by) the day when the 7 billion people inhabited the Earth. 7 billion people, that is hard to imagine or comprehend. The crazy thing is, people are not going to stop reproducing anytime soon; current speculation is we will reach 9 billion by 2050. 2050 is not very far away, less than 40 years, that’s a lot of reproducing for 40 years.
So how are we going to feed all these people? Starvation, hungry children and food insecurity are already issues with fewer than 7 billion, what are we going to do about the added 2 billion people in the next 40 years? The worst part is most of this increase will be in developing nations where their resources (including food) are already limited and their populations are already suffering from hunger and starvation on a daily basis.
Somehow our current agricultural system has to change for the better and quickly. But as of right now, “slowing annual increases in agricultural yields have a lot of analysts worried that many of those new people will suffer from chronic hunger — and that much of the land that hasn’t been converted to agriculture will be plowed under to grow crops.” (Grist.org) One possible solution is shifting farming principles to agroecology. “Agroecology applies ecology to agriculture in order to optimize long-term food production, requiring few purchased inputs and increasing soil quality, carbon sequestration and biodiversity over time. Agroecology also values traditional and indigenous farming methods, studying the scientific principals underpinning them instead of merely seeking to replace them with new technologies. As such, agroecology is grounded in local (material, cultural and intellectual) resources.” (Axisoflogic.com) This way of agriculture should be more sustainable and productive in the long run by considering the local environment and not trying to grow corn and wheat in every location at full capacity. This would mean backing away from corporate farms, mono-cultures and having fresh tomatoes year round. But these changes will be worth it in the long run because it would mean less starvation, which means happy people. Also this form of farming may be more labor intensive which could lead to more jobs in the agricultural sector.
Another change we need to brace ourselves for is increasing food prices. Which will only lead to increased food insecurity. Food prices will continue to increase as long as the demand keeps increasing and the supply continues to dwindle. As stated before, major changes need to occur not just in what we are growing but what we are eating and demanding to eat. This includes eating meat at almost every meal. Eating less meat could open up more crop land for other necessary crops to feed the population, since currently most of our meat eats corn and lots of it. We also need to stop wasting so much food. We need to be eating, buying, and consuming only what we need. Maybe if we lived more by this ideology, the U.S would not have such staggering obesity rates. Changing how we eat will be a big step but it could have major positive impacts for everyone on Earth. In the end I think Michael Pollan got it right with this quote, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”