Could changes in Dietary Patterns of world population alleviate hunger problems.

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Most of the world consumes non vegetarian food significantly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_water#Agricultural_products" compares the virtual water requirements of various food products :-
It is essential to recognize that virtual water is cumulative. To produce one kilogram of wheat about 1000 liters of water are needed, but for beef about 15 times as much is required. The majority of the water that we consume is embedded in food
the production of 1 kg wheat costs 1,300 L water
the production of 1 kg eggs costs 3,300 L water
the production of 1 kg broken rice costs 3,400 L water
the production of 1 kg beef costs 15,500 L water
I am showing the water requirements just as an example. But even land required to produce 1 kg of beef/red meat must be greater than land required to produce 1kg eggs.

So if human beings start shifting towards food products which require less resources for their production , but have similar nutritional value , maybe food shortage problems across the world could be lessened.

By this logic , soy-milk fortified with calcium could be a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soy_milk#Ecological_impact" for cow's milk.

Of course,changing habits of human beings especially food habits is a very tough job. Further, availability of food grains will also lead to increase in population. But still, the problem of hunger for the current world population remains unsolved. This could be one of the many solutions in a multi-pronged approach towards hunger reduction. There are also serious issues which need to be addressed such as black-marketing , in developing countries, which leads to hunger problems.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Char. Limit
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There's no way I'll listen to anyone who tells me I shouldn't eat beef. I like beef.

Selfish? You bet it is. Do I care? Not enough to change my eating habits.

So yeah, there's your first big difficulty. A LOT of people think like me.
 
  • #3
Wouldn't you rather have tofu ? :biggrin:
No just kidding.

Yes, you are right . I did mention it in my first post that changing food habits is not practical.

But what I meant was smart changes in dietary patterns. Not complete abstinence . That is way too extreme.
But if a person on average consumes 30 kg meat a year, he/she could cut it down to 24 kg per year. If you look at the water requirements , even that could produce admirable change.
Furthermore, reduction in amount of red meat consumption after a certain age is beneficial for the heart.
Or if a person doesn't want to give beef at all, maybe he could try opting for soy-milk instead of cow's milk , beef consumption being just the same as earlier.

P.S :- I wouldn't equate eating beef with selfishness or anything. I live in India, in our country most of the people are vegetarian and I wouldn't necessarily call them as the most selfless people in the world. Problems like over-population,corruption and black marketing are major contributors of hunger.


I read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_vegetarianism" [Broken] and the criticisms of such an approach do seem valid.
 
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  • #4
Evo
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They can raise cattle in areas not suitable to agriculture. Better to raise cattle than leave the land empty.
 
  • #5
They can raise cattle in areas not suitable to agriculture. Better to raise cattle than leave the land empty.
But the cattle will still consume lots of fodder for it's entire lifespan , say 3-4 years on an average. And that fodder will need land. And in the end the cow will be eaten in a week or so. The farther our diet is from the solar energy in the food-chain , the more resources consumed.(A significant amount of meat is produced by feeding foodgrains to the animal instead of grass grazing on open pastures)

Of course, what I am saying seems logically simplistic, and hence perhaps impractical.

Changes in dietary patterns could be one of the approaches. We need to improve efficiency in our distribution systems. I repeat, in my country problems such as poor agricultural technology , corruption , over-population are major causes of hunger. There is no point in people laying off meats and in the end the surplus food produced being eaten away by corruption.
 
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  • #6
Evo
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But the cattle will still consume lots of fodder for it's entire lifespan , say 3-4 years on an average. And that fodder will need land. And in the end the cow will be eaten in a week or so. The farther our diet is from the solar energy in the food-chain , the more resources consumed.(A significant amount of meat is produced by feeding foodgrains to the animal instead of grass grazing on open pastures)
They don't need much to live on.
Most cattle graze on grassland that is steep, hilly, dry or rocky and not suitable for building houses or growing crops. The main reason cattle are raised in different climates and settings all over the world is because they can thrive on low quality rangeland feed and grasses.
http://aitc.oregonstate.edu/commodities/beef.html
 
  • #7
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  • #8
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0
Yes , then that is good.
But I heard reports similar to the following that suggested that cattle feed is foodgrains :-
http://monthlyreview.org/2009/07/01/origins-of-the-food-crisis-in-india-and-developing-countries
Such practices seem wasteful.

But , in case cattle can be supported on grassland that is otherwise unsuitable for agriculture(such as the Australian outbacks) then that is good.
Highway median strips?

Personally, I think cutting the grass is a huge waste of resources - everyone should have a cow and raise 2 calves per year (front yard and back yard). If you live in an apartment - you can rent space on a farm.:smile:
 
  • #9
russ_watters
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Haven't we discussed this in other threads? The world's hunger problems are not primarily due to lack of capacity to grow food, but rather due to political, social and economic problems limiting access to food and/or the technology and resources to produce food.
 
  • #10
Evo
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Haven't we discussed this in other threads? The world's hunger problems are not primarily due to lack of capacity to grow food, but rather due to political, social and economic problems limiting access to food and/or the technology and resources to produce food.
Only a thousand times.
 
  • #11
Ryan_m_b
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We could grow meat in vitro. That would reduce the resources we have to use to make it to 5-20% of what it is now. Furthermore the crossover for technologies that allow for controlled cell behaviour (migration, differentiation etc) would have fantastic benefits in regenerative medicine. The advantage of tapping the food industry is that currently the beef market in the US alone is ten times the value of regenerative medicine globally.
 
  • #12
Bobbywhy
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World hunger. The world needs to solve three food problems simultaneously: end hunger, double food production by 2050, and do both while drastically reducing agriculture’s damage to the environment. Scientists offer five solutions:

1. Stop agriculture from consuming more tropical land
2. Boost the productivity of farms that have the lowest yields
3. Raise the efficiency of water and fertilizer use worldwide
4. Reduce per capita meat consumption
5. Reduce waste in food production and distribution

http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...al-damage-maps [Broken]
 
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  • #13
World hunger. The world needs to solve three food problems simultaneously: end hunger, double food production by 2050, and do both while drastically reducing agriculture’s damage to the environment. Scientists offer five solutions:

1. Stop agriculture from consuming more tropical land
2. Boost the productivity of farms that have the lowest yields
3. Raise the efficiency of water and fertilizer use worldwide
4. Reduce per capita meat consumption
5. Reduce waste in food production and distribution

http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...al-damage-maps [Broken]
I quite agree with what you said, all or more than one of the above approaches should be applied.
Point number 5 seems to me to be a very good one. I can understand that people can't be persuaded to reduce meat consumption, for such a thing impinges upon freedom of choice. But wastage of food that too at consumer end seems to me unforgivable. Wastage of food at production level would depend on poor technology . But wastage at consumer level is simply because of bad habits.
Have a look at this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_waste#Extent . If only people could be persuaded to use their refrigerators more often than their trash cans.
 
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  • #14
256bits
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I quite agree with what you said, all or more than one of the above approaches should be applied.
Point number 5 seems to me to be a very good one. I can understand that people can't be persuaded to reduce meat consumption, for such a thing impinges upon freedom of choice. But wastage of food that too at consumer end seems to me unforgivable. Wastage of food at production level would depend on poor technology . But wastage at consumer level is simply because of bad habits.
Have a look at this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_waste#Extent . If only people could be persuaded to use their refrigerators more often than their trash cans.
It is not all consumer bad habits. Some waste persists due to product packaging also.
There is alsways a drop of juice left over from a juice container - add up all those drops from all the litre (quart) containers sold - even more left in the containers with the screw on plastic spout thingy. Milk containers, same thing. Sugar packages - there is always some leaking out whenever I buy a pound bag of sugar. And those little single serving plastic packets of jam and peanut butter - it takes ages to get it all out.
 
  • #15
MarcoD
Of course,changing habits of human beings especially food habits is a very tough job. Further, availability of food grains will also lead to increase in population. But still, the problem of hunger for the current world population remains unsolved. This could be one of the many solutions in a multi-pronged approach towards hunger reduction. There are also serious issues which need to be addressed such as black-marketing , in developing countries, which leads to hunger problems.
I think the problem is rather moot. In my lifetime the world's population doubled, and it will double again by the time I die. Since there is no chance in hell that agriculture can keep up with exponential growth, food will become more expensive. You don't need to change anything, at some point, the majority of people will just not be able to buy meat, and a large part of the world's population will just starve. End of problem....

(Actually, if I apply logic to the problem, then to put an end to the population's growth that either must go voluntarily through birth control -which doesn't seem to happen,- or involuntarily through starvation. If you eat meat, the hard brick wall where people will need to die off will be hit earlier, which means that less people will need to die to stop the growth curve. So the solution to massive world starvation is to eat as much as you can now.)

(For those mathematically challenged, it is a bit akin to whether you are going to hit a brick wall with a fiat panda, or a titanic going at double speed. The number of casualties in the first example is just smaller.)
 
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  • #16
DoggerDan
I think the problem is rather moot. In my lifetime the world's population doubled, and it will double again...
Along with my waistline. In response, I've switched to a near vegetarian diet, have tripled my caloric exercise output, and have lost about 20lbs since.
 
  • #17
MarcoD
Along with my waistline. In response, I've switched to a near vegetarian diet, have tripled my caloric exercise output, and have lost about 20lbs since.
Yah, well, I do the same. I don't live out of my means. But I personally believe that there are just too many people to sustain on earth, and in this case, I believe the worst trend prediction of the UN, which says exponential growth at least continuing during my lifetime.

If it were up to me, free birth control measures to the total world's population should be one of the solutions.
 
  • #18
Ryan_m_b
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Yah, well, I do the same. I don't live out of my means. But I personally believe that there are just too many people to sustain on earth, and in this case, I believe the worst trend prediction of the UN, which says exponential growth at least continuing during my lifetime.

If it were up to me, free birth control measures to the total world's population should be one of the solutions.
I doubt the population will grow that fast. Bear in mind that the developed world has stagnated and in many places is decreasing, in no small part due to; widespread contraceptive use, a lack of need for so many offspring, the increase cost of raising a child in a developed society and an increase in equality and rights for women. In reality an ever growing population is unlikely in my opinion, as the world develops and the third world shrinks we'll start to see population growth decline.

With improvements to technology and decreasing population growth I doubt we'll see the malthusian nightmare some predict.
 
  • #19
You don't need a constantly increasing population to cause a Malthusian disaster if you have increasing constantly per capita pollution to supplant it. ;]
 
  • #20
472
0
Most of the world consumes non vegetarian food significantly. This wikipedia article compares the virtual water requirements of various food products :-


I am showing the water requirements just as an example. But even land required to produce 1 kg of beef/red meat must be greater than land required to produce 1kg eggs.

So if human beings start shifting towards food products which require less resources for their production , but have similar nutritional value , maybe food shortage problems across the world could be lessened.

By this logic , soy-milk fortified with calcium could be a substitute for cow's milk.

Of course,changing habits of human beings especially food habits is a very tough job. Further, availability of food grains will also lead to increase in population. But still, the problem of hunger for the current world population remains unsolved. This could be one of the many solutions in a multi-pronged approach towards hunger reduction. There are also serious issues which need to be addressed such as black-marketing , in developing countries, which leads to hunger problems.
There's plenty of food in the world. The problem is getting it to the people who need it.
 
  • #21
widereader
Most of the world consumes non vegetarian food significantly. This wikipedia article compares the virtual water requirements of various food products :-

Of course,changing habits of human beings especially food habits is a very tough job. Further, availability of food grains will also lead to increase in population. But still, the problem of hunger for the current world population remains unsolved. This could be one of the many solutions in a multi-pronged approach towards hunger reduction. There are also serious issues which need to be addressed such as black-marketing , in developing countries, which leads to hunger problems.
Hunger problems will never be solved in this inequitable world. While the first world countries have excess of food, third world countries are trying to live on a day to day basis yet their governments cannot provide them even a meal to be eaten once a day. Truly,the political stability of a country is one factor. Another is the ideologies that its leaders have.
 
  • #22
Unfortunately its a self correcting problem.

Its not really a global problem, honestly, but a local problem. Populations exceed their carrying capacity (or in some cases go too far under it) and starvation occurs. Even well fed countries have exceeded their carrying capacities in many cases (though the ensuing deaths aren't typically human).

Anyway, how is eating beef in large amounts a personal liberty? Sounds like entitlement to me. Maybe that's the real issue.
 
  • #23
472
0
Most of the world consumes non vegetarian food significantly. This wikipedia article compares the virtual water requirements of various food products :-


I am showing the water requirements just as an example. But even land required to produce 1 kg of beef/red meat must be greater than land required to produce 1kg eggs.

So if human beings start shifting towards food products which require less resources for their production , but have similar nutritional value , maybe food shortage problems across the world could be lessened.

By this logic , soy-milk fortified with calcium could be a substitute for cow's milk.

Of course,changing habits of human beings especially food habits is a very tough job. Further, availability of food grains will also lead to increase in population. But still, the problem of hunger for the current world population remains unsolved. This could be one of the many solutions in a multi-pronged approach towards hunger reduction. There are also serious issues which need to be addressed such as black-marketing , in developing countries, which leads to hunger problems.
There's no shortage of food or any other resources. The amount of food is not the problem. It simply is not a priority to actually get it to the people who need it. There you have it. The US gives billions of dollars to people in the governments of various impoverished countries. That 'aid' is not intended to diminish the suffering of or to alleviate the hunger of the impoverished. It's payments to the people with guns who run things and couldn't care less how many of their fellow human beings die of hunger.

The only way to solve the problems of the truly impoverished countries of the world, mostly in Africa, is to invade, occupy, and technologically build them. But nobody has the resources, or is willing to commit the resources, to do that. So there you have it. No matter what happens wrt to scientific advancements in food production or whatever. It doesn't matter.

The people in our world who are starving are starving because NO governments care to help them. It has nothing to do with resources or the amount of food available. There's PLENTY of food!!
 
  • #24
Ryan_m_b
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The only way to solve the problems of the truly impoverished countries of the world, mostly in Africa, is to invade, occupy, and technologically build them. But nobody has the resources, or is willing to commit the resources, to do that. So there you have it. No matter what happens wrt to scientific advancements in food production or whatever. It doesn't matter.
That's obviously not the only way, you can also make sure that your aid is spent well (not just given to dictators) and given under specific conditions (i.e use this aid to by tractors from my country) so as to encourage infrastructure development.
 
  • #25
Bobbywhy
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Oh, ThomasT! Your post above nearly makes me cry, and I am a 68 year-old man! You say that the "lowest billion" people are simply going to die of starvation because no governments care to help them. And it gets worse: in around 40 more years there may be TWO OR THREE BILLION more mouths to feed. Unless the current production/distribution system is drastically modified then hunger and death will become the great stabilizer of world population growth.

I tried diligently here in post #5 above to publicize how scientists had 5 ways to greatly reduce the world hunger problem, now and in 40 years. Am I terribly naïve to think we might actually diminish world hunger? Are those scientists wasting their time and energy? If your assessment is correct, then why should scientists bother searching for solutions? What about NGOs? Can they make any difference?
Can you propose any ways to diminish the problem (besides invading, occupying, and building the necessary technology)?

The referenced article is here:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=can-we-feed-the-world
 

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