Enough Land to Feed U.S. Residents?
At the beginning of 2012, the world population exceeded 7 billion people and is projected to increase to over 9 billion people by 2050. That means, to feed this fast-growing population, we need to figure out how to double our food production in the 38 years that remain between now and then.
Thinking a bit more specific, and looking just at the United States' ability to produce food for U.S. residents, we received a question from http://www.fooddialogues.com/ and enlisted Dr. Tom Tomich from the University of California, Davis.
- K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, Director, UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute
- Director, UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
- Professor of Community Development, Environmental Science & Policy, University of California, Davis
Best Food Facts: Do we have enough arable land in the United States to feed our own population?
Dr. Tomich: "Yes, we are fortunate to have abundant natural resources in our agriculture sector – enough to be a major food exporter. In California, much of our agricultural goods are shipped out of the state and around the world. And the U.S. is the largest supplier of corn in the world market.
"That doesn’t mean we don’t import foods. We import foods seasonally, some tropical commodities and even our coffee – I don’t see that changing over time.
"I don’t think anyone is seriously seeking to grow all the food we need in the U.S. within our borders. The discussion needs to be focused on the role of U.S. agriculture in the global demand for food – and how we consider global issues within U.S. food policy.
"There’s another issue here, regarding hunger. There is not a problem with the amount of food we have available to us. But there is a problem with hunger in the United States. This problem of hunger among such abundance results from socioeconomic issues that affect access to food, as well as distribution of the food. At present, we have historic levels of unemployment, people are running out of unemployment insurance, and there’s record enrollment in food assistance programs. So in terms of food security for the U.S., there’s an issue of livelihoods and, when that fails, we need an effective safety net to feed families."
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