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. 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. We also illustrate how shifting even slightly away from beef and pork can reduce environmental impact by reducing the water footprints and greenhouse gas emissions associated with diets.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. November 2013. Major: Natural Resources Science and Management. Advisor: Jonathan Foley. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 45 pages.
The Impact of Diet Preference on Agricultural Productivity and the Environment.
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