A new study has determined that there isn’t enough fruits and vegetables being grown around the world to let everyone eat a healthy diet.
Nutritionists and health experts are always telling us to eat more fruits and vegetables, but a new study is now saying that if we all switched our diet today there wouldn’t be enough fruits and veggies to go around.
The study comes from researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and was published in the journal PLOS One. In it, researchers say that the current agricultural system doesn’t meet the current or future needs of humanity.
“We simply can’t all adopt a healthy diet under the current global agriculture system,” said study co-author Professor Evan Fraser. “Results show that the global system currently overproduces grains, fats, and sugars, while production of fruits and vegetables and, to a smaller degree, protein is not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of the current population.”
In the study, Guelph researchers compared the current agricultural production with the current recommendations for a healthy diet. They used Harvard University’s Healthy Eating Plate guide, which recommends a diet based on half fruits and vegetables, a quarter whole grains, and another quarter meat, fats, and dairy.
Then researchers determine how much agricultural land exists and what its allocated to growing, and how much would need to exist for everyone on Earth to eat a healthy diet. They also used the expected population of 2050, which is projected to break 9.8 billion.
What they found out was startling. If current agriculture trends continue, every person on Earth in 2050 would be receiving 12 servings of grain (as opposed to the required 8 servings), 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (should be 15 servings), 3 servings of fat (should be 1 serving), 3 servings of protein (should be 5), and 4 servings of sugar (when it really should be zero).
The authors noted that developing countries tend to focus on grains as a cheap and easy to produce source of calories. Fat and sugars are also over-represented in world food production simply because humans of all shapes, colors, and socioeconomic backgrounds love them.
In order to continue with current food production, 2050 Earth would need 12 million more hectares of arable land and a billion more hectares of pasture land--neither of which the Earth can provide in the face of climate change.