Is there Enough "Earth" to Go Around?

By: Lindsey Loving   Date: 4/22/10

Today is "Earth Day" - a day dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of our planet, and all that it provides for us. Many people recognize this day by planting a tree, using mass transportation to get to work instead of driving, or switching to energy-efficient light bulbs in their homes.

But what evokes Earth Day for me is in the very word "Earth", which is literally the soil we walk upon, and which fertilizes the seeds that grow the food that feeds the world.

Did you know that the world's population is projected to grow from 6 to 9.1 billion people by the year 2050? And that the Earth's food production must double to meet the growth in demand from all these additional people?

Where is the land to grow all this food going to come from?

This is a great question. After all, there is only one Earth (that we know of). While there is plenty of land, much of that land isn't suitable to grow food on, due to more land being used for housing, stores, etc., and because soil conditions in some parts of the world are too wet or too dry.

However, with the use of technology, some of that land may one day soon be able to grow food. Advanced food technology like biotechnology or nanotechnology may make it possible to produce crops that withstand drought and flood conditions. This makes our food supply more sustainable, and sustainability is a vitally important aspect of everything we do, including food growth, production, and distribution.

Here are some food sustainability facts for you to think about this Earth Day:
1. Sustainability is about more than just carbon footprint or food miles. It encompasses everything that contributes to ensuring the availability of food for future generations, including growing more food using less land, water, and earth; and transporting more food longer distances using the most efficient means possible.
2. All types of food production - conventional and organic, local and national, fresh and processed - can contribute to a sustainable food supply; not one method alone can meet the growing demand.
3. Modern food production makes it possible to enjoy many types of food from all over the world year-round, in a convenient and cost-effective way. And, global trade helps improve food security, contributing to the sustainability of the global food supply.

With slowly rising global temperatures and what seems like a new natural disaster every week (Who would have thought an erupting volcano would bring global travel - including imports and exports of food - to a standstill???), it's becoming critically important to use all of the efficient, safe, and sustainable tools we have to ensure there is enough "Earth" - and food - to go around, for the next 40 years and beyond.

What good examples of sustainability in action have you observed lately?