TED Conversations

Loren Trimble

Line Development Breeder (Maize), Monsanto Company

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Food Quantity vs. Food Quality

Dan Barber shares some elegant stories about food production and ecosystem services. In these two talks he highlights the importance of food production that is sustainable and emphasizes a chef's desire for the highest quality food anywhere.

The debate that I am proposing does not disregard the importance of high quality food; rather it is to identify the importance of increasing the quantity of all foods.

Several studies have identified that food processing, government policy, transportation, and food waste are all factors that increase hunger and decrease the availability of food throughout the planet. Some would even argue that increasing food production is unnecessary if we could just better distribute the food we are already capable of producing.

The ecosystem is a complex entity, many of the services provided by organic and sustainable farm practices are not capable of 'scaling-up' to produce enough food for the growing world population. As it is now, 1 billion people are either malnourished or undernourished and the number is increasing every day. These people are not interested in foie gras, they are interested getting just one more calorie to satisfy their hunger. Sure food quality is important, but how much does that foie gras cost? It may be as much as an entire month’s salary for some of the poor people on our planet.

Perhaps the agricultural industry of today is not perfect, but at least its target is feeding billions of hungry people (not a few rich people). Without the efforts of the agricultural industry, billions more people would go hungry every day.

+1
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 12 2012: The problem of food shortage and food quality could simply be stopped if everyone was able to plant a garden that provided enough food that would sustain a family. The cost of maintaining a garden is incredibly less compared to what we spend at supermarkets. You can save up to 3 thousand dollars a year if you grow enough food. Plus nothing would be wasted and the food would be better then anything you could buy at a suppermarket! Every family would only be growing what they would consume. The food problem around the world would be solved!
    • thumb
      May 14 2012: Could you reference where those numbers came from? If you are proposing a garden that would provide enought food for a family, that garden would be quite large. Also, gardens are seasonal, produce is not available year round. Third, there is waste in gardening- just by turning it into compost doesn't mean it is not waste first.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.