Friday, May 16, 2008

Food for Thought

I tend to eat a lot. Biking makes me eat more. No surprise there. Did you ever wonder how all of that excess eating affects the world food supply? Yea, I know, we can drive ourselves nuts worrying about all of this stuff. But it's at least worth thinking about. And discussing. While out on the next ride, burning a bunch of calories.

And yes, I know, there are a million other reasons for food shortage issues....inefficiencies in the distribution chain, bad governments, subsidies to not grow crops, etc. etc.

Here is an excerpt from a recent article in the New Yorker:

The problem is not just the number of mouths to feed; it’s the quantity of food that each mouth consumes when there are no natural constraints. As the world becomes richer, people eat too much, and too much of the wrong things—above all, meat. Since it takes on average four pounds of grain to make a single pound of meat, Roberts writes, “meatier diets also geometrically increase overall food demands” even in those parts of Europe and North America where fertility rates are low.
Even now, there is no over-all food shortage when measured by global subsistence needs. Despite the current food crisis, last year’s worldwide grain harvest was colossal, five per cent above the previous year’s. We are not yet living on Cormac McCarthy’s scorched earth. Yet demand is increasing ever faster. As of 2006, there were eight hundred million people on the planet who were hungry, but they were outnumbered by the billion who were overweight. Our current food predicament resembles a Malthusian scenario—misery and famine—but one largely created by overproduction rather than underproduction. Our ability to produce vastly too many calories for our basic needs has skewed the concept of demand, and generated a wildly dysfunctional market.

1 comment:

JimmyNick said...

Don't blame me. I haven't eaten a thing since I found out Lance was doing an Olsen twin.