How can we feed 20 billion people

  • Thread starter wolram
  • Start date
  • #26
gleem
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
1,640
1,001
As I understand it, this is mostly due to the way they are raised in mass production in the US: fed corn and other grains, lots of antibiotics, no freedom. Free range grass fed beef, antibiotic free, is much less of a risk. See, for example, here:
Actually I think it has to do with the saturated fats in the meat. Free range beef is better because the ratio of the good Omega3 to the not so good Omega 6 fatty acids is much greater. Feeding cattle with grain has made them more like the grain that they eat. I understand that too much omega 6 contributes to inflammation.
 
  • #27
OCR
862
712
Both soy beans and peas are complete proteins so we can do without the issues related to raising live stock.
Let's see now... We plant all this stuff into soy beans and peas, correct ? . :olduhh:

upload_2018-10-14_16-39-19.jpeg


upload_2018-10-14_16-11-25.jpeg



But, oh my !!

What are the cows going to eat.? . :oldconfused:

upload_2018-10-14_16-32-2.jpeg


Soy beans and peas, correct ? . :oldeyes: .


Some people seem to forget... cows are pretty good, self propelled grass harvesters...

I could go on, and on, and on... but this will do... . :oldgrumpy:

Carry on.

.
 

Attachments

Last edited:
  • Like
Likes 256bits
  • #28
256bits
Gold Member
3,137
1,149
Some people seem to forget... cows are pretty good, self propelled grass harvesters...
All that rolling and rocky land. Maybe it will have to be tamed into submission - cut the trees, git rid of the useless flora and fauna, level it out, bring in a mass of topsoil, and voila we have pristine agricultural land worthy for a pamphlet.
 
  • Like
Likes OCR
  • #29
256bits
Gold Member
3,137
1,149
One problem I find with feeding the people is that some in some parts of world, for their reasons that they only know, will just not eat. There is food aplenty, but will they take, no they will not. Of course I speak not of the chatter class who will never substitute sparkling wine and fish eggs for champagne and caviar as the substiture is not real food. But of the ones with frail frames - they seem to have an aversion to food . Around a bit less than a billion are susceptible to follow this philosophy of food and the number is growing.
https://www.worldhunger.org/world-hunger-and-poverty-facts-and-statistics/
 
  • #30
OCR
862
712
Lol... . :smile:
Maybe it will have to be tamed into submission...
 
  • #32
gleem
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
1,640
1,001
Live stock unfortunately contribute the majority of green house gases from agriculture about 40% in the US. Agriculture contribute 13% of green house gasses much of which is methane and nitrous oxide which are more potent than CO2 . So as we need to live we are thwarting ourselves to survive. We cut down forests which absorb CO2 and produce vegetation much of which is wasted fed to cattle and decomposed to produce green house gases. Cattle consume about 5000 lbs of grain before slaughter. There are 88 M cattle/calves in US. about 1/4 cow for every person. Mass wise cattle comprise about twice as much flesh mass compared to humans and are far more potent producers of methane. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesal...re-warming-the-planet-and-theyre-here-to-stay.
 
  • #33
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2019 Award
29,621
8,900
I think it has to do with the saturated fats in the meat. Free range beef is better because the ratio of the good Omega3 to the not so good Omega 6 fatty acids is much greater.
That's an important factor, yes. I suspect it's not the only one, but there's a lot we still have to learn about nutrition and how various foods affect us, so scientifically speaking we can't give a lot of details about the relative benefits of various ways of raising meat animals. It stands to reason that an animal raised in a lifestyle for which that animal has evolved for a long time--cattle evolved to eat grass and be free range, not to eat grains and be penned all the time--will be healthier and will therefore provide healthier food. But that's not based on a detailed understanding of science in this area; it's just common sense.
 
  • #34
117
49
Here is a video that I think could add to this discussion
Personally I think we should for now focus on reducing how often we eat meat then focus on synthetic meat
 
  • #35
stefan r
Science Advisor
829
237
I personally don't digest soy protein well, so I prefer pea protein for burger substitutes. Whey protein is also complete; I have whey protein bars for quick snacks.



As I understand it, this is mostly due to the way they are raised in mass production in the US: fed corn and other grains, lots of antibiotics, no freedom. Free range grass fed beef, antibiotic free, is much less of a risk. See, for example, here:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases...se/expert-answers/grass-fed-beef/faq-20058059
Whey is still cow based protein. Has no effect on climate or population limits. In order to get the cow to produce milk it has to give birth to 50% bulls. When they cow gets old it produces less milk. Either the veil and cow gets eaten or old cows and bulls are roaming around adding additional limitations to agriculture production.

That's an important factor, yes. I suspect it's not the only one, but there's a lot we still have to learn about nutrition and how various foods affect us, so scientifically speaking we can't give a lot of details about the relative benefits of various ways of raising meat animals. It stands to reason that an animal raised in a lifestyle for which that animal has evolved for a long time--cattle evolved to eat grass and be free range, not to eat grains and be penned all the time--will be healthier and will therefore provide healthier food. But that's not based on a detailed understanding of science in this area; it's just common sense.
It is quite clear that eating beef lowers your life expectancy. A slightly less toxic cow is still toxic.

It is highly unlikely that red meat was a primary dietary source for evolving humans. There was some of that. Insects and shell fish can be a sustained protein source. You could periodically kill a mammal or bird with a rock and supplement a stone age diet. As a staple it is dysfunctional. Hunting may have had a cultural effect: big game hunters made friends. There may have been strong reproductive advantages: After gorging on excess meat there could be sex. In terms of how to avoid starvation during most normal weeks of the year gathering is a much better strategy than hunting. If you are chasing big animals and all of them escape then your children die from starvation. Digging grubs and roots and picking berries and nuts would keep you alive for a lifetime. The people who stayed alive eating grubs were able to show up at the party thrown when someone killed a horse. Antelope have large horns which can help select against people who harass them. Hyenas and lions do kill buffalo so people chasing around a buffalo and waiting for one to be injured would frequently find that their children have been eaten.

There is a limited amount of free range. Cattle tend to destroy it. There is no way you can have 10 billion people on Earth consuming free range beef as a major component of their diets.
 
  • #36
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2019 Award
29,621
8,900
It is quite clear that eating beef lowers your life expectancy.
Please give some specific references. My understanding is that studies in this area don't all show this result, plus they are almost all studies of eating meat from animals raised in the unhealthy ways I described earlier.

It is highly unlikely that red meat was a primary dietary source for evolving humans.
If your definition of "red meat" is beef, then yes, of course this is true, since most of human evolution took place before cattle were domesticated and raised for meat.

However, there is plenty of evidence that humans hunted big game and that the meat from that game was a significant food source for most of human evolution. See, for example, here:

https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/evidence-for-meat-eating-by-early-humans-103874273

There is no way you can have 10 billion people on Earth consuming free range beef as a major component of their diets.
This is probably true (and gets us back on the thread topic, which is good). Free range beef isn't a major component of the diet of most of Earth's people now.
 
  • #37
phyzguy
Science Advisor
4,549
1,484
I find this website to be an excellent source of actual data on food production. I've pulled out one of the more interesting graphs below. Since 1961, we can produce the same amount of food on one third as much land. It's hard to look at these charts and conclude that we will have difficulty feeding the world in 2050.


ourworldindata_land-per-crop-pin-750x525.png
 

Attachments

  • Like
Likes Astronuc, diogenesNY and russ_watters
  • #38
stefan r
Science Advisor
829
237
I find this website to be an excellent source of actual data on food production. I've pulled out one of the more interesting graphs below. Since 1961, we can produce the same amount of food on one third as much land. It's hard to look at these charts and conclude that we will have difficulty feeding the world in 2050.
There have been substantial reductions in the percentage of grains that become seed.

The amount of petroleum used per calorie of food has the opposite slope:
90db298393.jpg
 

Attachments

  • #39
russ_watters
Mentor
19,661
5,935
There have been substantial reductions in the percentage of grains that become seed.

The amount of petroleum used per calorie of food has the opposite slope:
View attachment 232232
Did you attach the wrong graph? I don't see anything about petroleum use. In either case, it is tough for me to see what your point is.
 
  • #40
stefan r
Science Advisor
829
237
Did you attach the wrong graph? I don't see anything about petroleum use. In either case, it is tough for me to see what your point is.
Sorry, nitrates are produced by petroleum.
I'm confident there are more engines burning it too. Potasium, topsoil, and water are all concerns.
 
  • #41
russ_watters
Mentor
19,661
5,935
Sorry, nitrates are produced by petroleum.
I'm confident there are more engines burning it too.
The nitrates graph is not per calorie (none of the graphs are).

Do you actually have per calorie graphs? I would actually be interested in seeing them. What I would expect is that when any new technology is incorporated it would have an initial period where its intensity rises until fully incorporated, then drops as efficiency improves. In the west we've seen this with basic energy usage intensity, which peaked in the '70s and has dropped since. The tough part is that since developed countries are still developing, their usage hasn't peaked yet. I suspect the same applies to energy and resources specifically used for farming.

10 years ago I was pretty concerned about the world's long term energy prospects, but I'm not anymore. We have the ability to provide most of the world's energy cleanly and cheaply; we just have to decide to do it. But until then, we have plenty of fossil fuel to make it through this century.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes PeterDonis
  • #42
stefan r
Science Advisor
829
237
The nitrates graph is not per calorie (none of the graphs are).

Do you actually have per calorie graphs? ...
I can't find one, but I have had enough of agriculture reading for a least a few weeks.

I did find this from USDA, paragraph 2 of conclusion:
The majority of energy consumed in agriculture is in the indirect form used to manufacture fertilizer, followed by diesel, electricity, and natural gas.
A graph of primary energy consumed per unit of dietary energy consumed would be relatively flat. At least compared to either the graph of yield per acre or the graph of fertilizer consumption.
Should also include erosion of topsoil. The same acre may not continue providing the high yields.

The slope of the graph should change depending on which data you use. Do you include things like food thrown away (actually not sure if that is up or down in USA). Does composted food count as thrown away and/or does the energy get counted in the garden vegetable. Some food additives like Splenda give 0 dietary calories but clearly must consume more energy to produce than glucose. Is the energy consumed building and maintaining roads included in agriculture? You would usually count that as transportation but if trucks are transporting corn then it is part of the energy in food at the grocery store.

I'm certainly not recommending hoarding food or panicking. The food supply problems are easily solved by people becoming vegetarians. There is also little point in talking about forcing any one to become vegetarian. We could just stop subsidizing meat/dairy production. Doing nothing as a country really does solve most of the problem in the USA. [by doing nothing I mean taking action on a bill that removes all federal and state subsidies] If people on the left cherish state food subsidies we could still solve the problem by subsidizing healthy vegetarian foods instead of poisoning people. There may be no need to tax people who consume beef the way cigarettes are taxed. A free market would cause a major shift in consumption.

Cricket protein is nearly an order of magnitude more efficient than beef. If you really do not want to go vegan there is that option. There is a lot of good vegan food so personally I have not found any reason to look for an alternative.
 
  • #43
russ_watters
Mentor
19,661
5,935
I can't find one, but I have had enough of agriculture reading for a least a few weeks.
Fair enough.
The food supply problems are easily solved by people becoming vegetarians.
Given that the consensus here seems to be that there is no food supply problem, this "solution" looks moot to me.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes bhobba
  • #44
cronxeh
Gold Member
961
10
This thread is not about science or engineering problems, those solutions have been found a long time ago. This is about human stupidity and error propagation.
 
  • Like
Likes stefan r
  • #45
Ygggdrasil
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2019 Award
3,051
2,708
A few years ago I tried about three different kinds of veggie hamburger.

None of them were very like hamburger IMHO.
Perhaps there are better now, if so what are some examples.
I have tried the "Impossible Burger," which uses heme produced recombinantly in yeast to make its plant-based patties taste more like meat, and found it to taste pretty good.

Please give some specific references. My understanding is that studies in this area don't all show this result, plus they are almost all studies of eating meat from animals raised in the unhealthy ways I described earlier.
Many regulatory bodies classify consumption of red meat as a probable contributor to cancer (colorectal cancer specifically, though there is some evidence it could affect other cancers). The effect is somewhat small, so completely eliminating red meat from one's diet is probably not necessary, but most sources recommend limiting the consumption of red meats and processed meats:
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(15)00444-1/fulltext
http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/
https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/exposures/meat-fish-dairy
https://www.cancer.org/healthy/eat-...sical-activity-cancer-prevention/summary.html

Of course, these conclusions are based off of observational studies, so nothing can be really be proven conclusively, especially considering the difficulty of performing a randomized controlled trial. Still, the recommendations reflect the preponderance of the best available scientific evidence. In light of these studies, I have certainly made an effort to reduce my consumption of red meats and processed meats.

Some hypothesize that cooking heme could potentially contribute to the carcinogenicity of red meat, so if that's true, the Impossible Burgers mentioned above may not offer as much of a health benefit (at least with regard to cancer risk) as other meat substitutes.
 
  • Like
Likes bhobba, OmCheeto and BillTre
  • #46
9,427
2,476
This thread is not about science or engineering problems, those solutions have been found a long time ago. This is about human stupidity and error propagation.
First chill out man - we are discovering new things all the time and engineering/technology is progressing at an incredible pace. I personally am not worried about many of the things you hear in the popular media along the lines of we are all doomed because while many problems are solved those solutions are getting even better - we just need to ensure the public understands science/engineering better. That's where I think this forum is very useful in people understanding the actual science and we must stick to the scientific method.

Thanks
Bill
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes Astronuc, ZeGato and russ_watters
  • #47
phyzguy
Science Advisor
4,549
1,484
Methinks this thread has run its course. Moderators?
 
  • Like
Likes bhobba and russ_watters
  • #48
russ_watters
Mentor
19,661
5,935
Methinks this thread has run its course. Moderators?
Wegrees.

Thread locked.
 
  • Like
Likes bhobba, Bystander and jim mcnamara

Related Threads on How can we feed 20 billion people

  • Last Post
3
Replies
72
Views
8K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
2K
  • Last Post
3
Replies
52
Views
9K
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
26
Views
6K
Replies
10
Views
827
Replies
36
Views
11K
Replies
2
Views
4K
Top