It’s getting crowded on the third rock from the sun.
By mid-century there will be ten billion hungry humans. To feed these billions, crops need to increase by 60-100%. That would require clearing land – mostly rainforests and savannahs, using huge amounts of fertilizer, driving many animal species into extinction, and dangerously raising greenhouse gas emissions.
There’s a lot in the way.
People around the world are eating more beef, animal products, and dairy – the most expensive way to raise and provide food. Climate change raises the ante with rising temperatures, changes in weather patterns, and extreme climate events that lead to food contamination, pests, spoilage, and distribution problems. Higher CO2 lowers protein and minerals in many of the world’s most critical crops, like wheat, rice, and potatoes.
How are we going to keep up?
“[climate change] is a hoax,” The Orange Man in The White House says, “I want to use hairspray.”
Hairspray doesn’t feed anyone.
According to the World Resources Institute, “there is a big shortfall between the amount of food we produce today and the amount needed to feed everyone by 2050.”
Where does that leave us now?
It’s called sustainability – maintaining what we have now, including optimal use of resources, environmental protection, agriculture, health, and food security to protect tomorrow.
Yet Washington is doing the opposite by repealing environmental protections, encouraging coal production and use of greenhouse gases, and denying climate change.
Mr. Trump, dubbed by The New York Times as “the fast food president,” doesn’t care about sustainability. He’s cutting climate research because “it’s a waste.” He served fast food in the White House East room, next to gilded candelabras, to the NCAA champs, the Clemson Tigers.
There was pizza, fries, and over 300 burgers, on silver platters next to gilded candelabras.
Mr. Trump claimed “there’s nothing better than that,” calling it “great American food.”
Research has repeatedly found that a diet of fast and unhealthy foods contributes to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the supermarket.
Nutrition experts figured out that what’s good for the planet is good for you. That means you can have a positive impact on the Earth by eating healthy – reducing meat and animal products, food waste, dairy, and focusing on plant-based, sustainable foods.
It doesn’t mean you have to give up an occasional hamburger or pizza. You simply need to modify your food – like you modify your behavior in recycling, driving smaller cars, going green . . . you know the list.
It’s all about shrinking your carbon footprint.
There’s a catch. A new study, the Global Burden of Disease, found that it’s not just about limiting steak and ice cream. What you don’t eat can be even more problematic.
Dr. Ashkan Afshin, lead author of the study, explains. “Traditionally all the conversation about healthy diet has been focused on lowering the intake of unhealthy food . . . [we found] a low intake of healthy foods is the most important factor.”
Afshin and his colleagues found that one in five deaths on the planet – 11 million people in one given year – was the result of not eating the right foods. Simply put, not eating enough of human and Earth-healthy foods can be worse than living on hamburgers, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Diet Coke.
What are the right foods? The same foods that are good for the Earth and promote sustainability: whole grains, non-processed foods, nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables.
The UN declared 2016-2025 the Decade of Action on Nutrition for “programmes and increased investments to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms, everywhere, leaving no one behind.”
Malnutrition and bad diets are not limited to poor people in Third World Countries. It’s about you, me, and the planet. Taking action means maintaining your health through food as well as the Earth’s future for your kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.
Don’t let hairspray get in your way.