The food choices we make bear directly on our health. Just as directly, they have effects on the environment. The plants and animals we eat are raised with a dizzying array of practices—plants can be grown on farms of 5 or 5,000 acres; fish can be raised in fiberglass tanks in a warehouse or in open ocean pens; beef cattle can be one per acre if grazing or one per 100 square feet if on a feedlot.
The environmental footprint for farm animals depends, in large part, on how they are fed. As farm animals, fish have a lot going for them. Because they live in a weightless environment, they don’t spend their calories making a skeleton that can fight gravity. They’re also cold-blooded so they don’t burn any calories to maintain their body temperature. This means fish farming makes a much smaller call on resources than other types of animal agriculture. At the same time fish provide nutritious food that public health experts say should be a larger part of our diets.
In my story published Friday on TriplePundit I consider just what it takes to feed the animals we eat and what that means to a sustainable food future.
This is how it starts:
What does the future look like for our food-production systems? In short, it can’t look like the present. Our current agriculture uses 38 percent of the world’s land and 70 percent of its water. But experts say we need to double (or nearly so) our food production by mid century. With our current practices, we aren’t poised to deliver anything near that amount — 70 percent can’t be doubled nor, practically, can 38 percent.
To meet our future food needs, agriculture must be done quite differently. Discontinuous change is needed as we learn how to do more with less.
You can read the rest of the article here.