December 4, 2013

UN report sheds light on need for sustainable food productionSustainable food production has been growing in popularity in recent years, and according to a recent report from the United Nations, that movement must continue to pick up steam if the world is to accommodate its burgeoning population.

Report findings
The report, titled “World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future,” which was written by the World Resources Institute, the World Bank and other UN agencies, states that 70 percent more food, by calories, will need to be produced by 2050 to handle a projected population of 9.6 billion people. And that food will need to be produced in a sustainable fashion.

“From reducing food waste to improving agricultural practices, feeding a growing population requires working on several fronts at the same time,” said Juergen Voegele, World Bank Director for Agriculture and Environmental Services. “Applying the principles of climate smart agriculture across landscapes – that means crops, livestock, forests and fisheries – has the potential to sustainably increase food security, enhance resilience and reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint. Pursuing this approach is not a luxury, it’s an imperative.”

Sustainable farming in America
Gene Stoel, a soybean farmer in Minnesota, is well aware of how important sustainable practices are in the farming industry. In an op-ed he wrote in the Duluth News Tribune, Stoel talks about his industry’s efforts to incorporate more environmentally friendly methods in the growing, harvesting and delivery of its products.

Stoel cites a recent study, “Field to Market: The Keystone Alliance to Sustainable Agriculture,” to show how farmers in the U.S. have been implementing more sustainable techniques to reduce land use, soil erosion, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. He specifically mentions the quick adoption of newer, more efficient procedures as the key to making those improvements.

One of the most important factors in that increased efficiency is the use of technology. Stoel uses satellites to control his planters and pest-control sprayers to ensure that neither of them is overused. He also uses scientific testing to determine which seeds produce the highest crop yields and sophisticated mapping to find out what parts of the farm are the most fertile.

While the U.S. is generally ahead of other countries in its efforts and ability to quickly integrate new farming methods, the examples that Stoel points to could serve as a roadmap for the rest of the world. Those improvements, along with sustainable cooking methods being taught in culinary programs and baking courses, will be the first steps in the attempt to meet the rising demand that is discussed in the UN report.