Our Food, Our Future

Can organic farming feed the world? A noted scientist argues that it can—and must.

By Donella H. Meadows Ph.D.


What You Can Do
4 Ways You Can Help Organics Feed the World

  • Buy a yearly subscription to a Community Supported Agriculture organic farm. For a fee, usually ranging from $350 to $500, the farmer will supply you weekly deliveries of a whole season of fresh, organically grown produce, herbs, eggs, and flowers.
  • Vote with your pocketbook at the supermarket by buying certified-organic foods and beverages. The costs are often comparable to nonorganic brands. n Make a tax-deductible donation to a nonprofit organization that helps organic farmers. Two possibilities are the Organic Farming Research Foundation, Box 440, Santa Cruz, CA 95061 (www.ofrf.org); and The Rodale Institute, 611 Siegfriedale Rd., Kutztown, PA 19530 (www.rodaleinstitute.org).
  • Teach a child the connection between healthy soil and healthy food.


Not Enough Food?
Maybe It's Time to Think Again
Imagine 100 fully loaded 747 jumbo jets crashing each day, killing all aboard. That's the number of people—24,000 of us, mostly children—who die around the world daily of causes related to hunger. And that's just the beginning. The United Nations predicts that today's world population of 6 billion people will jump to 9 billion by 2030.

It seems utterly logical, then, that more food is needed. But when you look beyond these daunting numbers, you find that the world's farmers already grow enough to feed us all.

The amount of grain produced in the world last year could sustain 8 billion people if it would be evenly distributed, not fed to animals, and not lost to pests or rot between harvest and consumption.

In the United States, 7 of every 10 pounds of the grain produced is fed to animals rather than being eaten directly by humans. Worldwide, channeling just one-third of the grain fed to livestock to the hungriest people could end death by starvation, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

If we could simply eliminate postharvest loss, which ranges from 10 to 40 percent depending on the crop and locale, the population could expand by 25 percent with plenty of food.