Moving Down the Food Chain or Up

blue_goals_spot“How many of us can the world support?” It depends on what level of food consumption. Right now the world produces about 2 billion tons of grain per year. Diets heavy in livestock products like the U.S., which consumes about 800 kilograms per person annually could support only 2.5 billion people if the whole world took up the U.S. way of consumption. The Italians fair better at 400 kilograms per person annually. And at the 200 kilogram level consumed by the average Indian the world grain harvest could support 10 billion.

In every society where incomes raise, people move up the food chain. They eat more animal protein. Beef, pork, poultry, milk, eggs, and seafood are mixed at different levels depending on geography and culture, but the raise in more livestock laden diets appears to be universal with a raise in purchasing power.

The worlds grain production that feeds us and all this livestock must raise along with this trend as more nations become developed and nothing is done in the way of consumption.

But, there is something you can do. What do the Italians do that they consume about half as much as Americans? What sets them apart?

They consume most of their annual consumption per person directly as either pasta, bread, rice, or breakfast cereal. But in moderation.

And even better than that the Italians live longer, too! The average life expectancy in Italy is higher than in the U.S. It turns out that people living too high or too low on the food chain don’t live as long as those in the middle. The Indians could improve their health by consuming more animal protein.

Consuming a more Mediterranean type diet that includes meat, cheese, and seafood, but all in moderation is healthier for you.

So moving down the food chain can improve your health if you eat too much food from livestock while at the same time lowering your annual grain intake. Or, if you need to eat more animal protein it could improve your health.

Also moving down the food chain has many other positive benefits for the environment. Eating lower on the food chain means you consume less energy and water per kilogram of food you eat. Helping reduce energy consumption and pollution.

Modern agriculture depends heavily on the use of gasoline and diesel fuel in tractors for plowing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting. Irrigation pumps use diesel fuel, natural gas, and coal-fired electricity. Fertilizer production is also energy-intensive: the mining, manufacture, and international transport of phosphates and potash all depend on oil. Natural gas, however, is used to synthesize the basic ammonia building block in nitrogen fertilizers.

Moving down the food chain means less energy is need to produce the food you eat. A cow takes about twice as much energy to produce a kilogram of meat than that of a pig and about 6 times as much for fish and poultry. Fish is the less energy intensive with chicken coming in at a close second.

So with this in mind we will be including recipes and diet suggestions in this section to help you explore more what you can eat to help yourself live longer and save the impact you have on the environment at the same time.

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