TED Conversations

Loren Trimble

Line Development Breeder (Maize), Monsanto Company

This conversation is closed.

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.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 14 2012: Yes I do garden but I have a significantly larger garden. I am able to freeze enough food to sustain my family of 3 for the winter between what I grow and what I purchase from local orchards. Yes I realize not everyone can do this, but even if a majority of the population could grow a garden that would sustain them for a few months or purchase foods on a 100% local scale from farmers, it would be a huge step in bettering food quality and would help with the issue of food quantity.
    • thumb
      May 15 2012: I agree that home gardening increases food availability and the quality is often better. I also wish that more people had an interest in growing their food.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.