According to one new estimate, Americans waste up to 40 percent of food that they buy. This is a loss that adds up to tens of billions of dollars each year, and leads to overflowing landfills. An average family dumps nearly 100 pounds of food in the trash each month. Meanwhile, the world struggles through a U.S. drought and increased prices of food staples such as corn.
It’s stories like these that give credence to those who would attack meat and the advancement of the food industry.
Take for example, calls to save the world by dropping the cheeseburger. At least that’s the message from this week’s edition of alarmist science. The UK’s Guardian reports that water scientists fear that in 2050 the world will reach a population of 9 billion and in order to avoid a shortage, we will have to reduce the amount of protein derived from animal products to five percent, down from 20 percent, as it is today. That’s because croplands that are now used for animal feed will allegedly put a strain on the water supply.
But the article notes that this everybody-become-a-vegetarian plan is just “one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food.” The Guardian fails to tell us what the other options are, of course—because you can’t scare people when there are more reasonable options on the table. Yet the report itself discusses several scenarios and tests that include crop yield increases and increased food trade.
Before you’re scared into becoming an herbivore, consider some of the advancements and challenges in the food industry.
- Rather than using ballot initiatives to encourage trial lawyers to attack biotechnology with costly lawsuits, scientific and technological progress should be encouraged.
- Modernization of livestock industries abroad helps to make farming for efficient. And the world can learn from U.S. methods. A brand new study on U.S. water and land use for animal agriculture also tells us that only 24 percent of irrigated acreage in the U.S. is for livestock feed, anyway. As the report notes, feed crops actually require less water per acre than other crops.
- We should look to large farms to help alleviate these problems, as they take up less land to produce a certain amount of food and are economically sound, very efficient compared to their “local” counterparts, and even have environmental advantages.
And coming back to that wasted food–up to a quarter of all U.S. freshwater consumption is lost along with it, according to the report. Cutting back on that figure would significantly help the potential water problems that the future holds.
There are many, many ways to keep an eye on a sustainable future that involve improving our lives and diet, not making them more austere.