We’re GROWING Enough Food To Feed Everyone On The Planet. Why Aren’t We EATING It?

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I learned so much in this adorable and alarming short, I watched it twice. We’re living longer, and that’s great, but what does that mean? Where are those years coming from? How does our food culture factor into this extra time? Talk about food for thought!

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Narrator: It is true that longevity is increasing. I think it's gone up 17 years since a hundred years ago. Very, very impressive. Ten of those years are at the beginning of life; basically sanitation and vaccination, our ability to get children through childhood. There are plenty of people living to be in their 80s or 90s in the last century, if they could survive those first couple years. The seven years of the other end is, by and large, a result of medical intervention. And, yes, we have come up with ingenious technologies to treat the people we have sickened. And the choice we have now, which is to continue to medicalize the chronic disease problem the food system is creating.

What GM has done so far is not very helpful to the world's poor, to anyone, which is to say it has allowed farmers to expand the size of their holdings. But expanding monocultures is not contributing to our health or our happiness. It's contributing to more processed food and more meat consumption. In 2008, which was a year of supposed food crisis, we grew enough food to feed 11 billion people. Most of it was not eaten by humans as food, however. A great deal of it was fed to animals - about half - to feed our meat habit. And a great deal, especially in the United States, was fed to automobiles because we're driving our cars on food right now.

Industrial agriculture depends on huge amounts of fossil fuel. To produce this kind of processed food, it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of food energy. You know, this is a system ostensibly based on photosynthesis. The question you have to answer is, "Is that the way you want to deal with it?" My argument is that it would be a whole lot more economical and beautiful to focus on changing the diet rather than hooking us all up to more and more effective machines.

There may be small errors in this transcript.
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Original video narrated by Michael Pollan and animated by Francisco Park for the RSA. Pollan’s entire RSA talk can be viewed here. Thumbnail image by Pop Tech, used under a Creative Commons license.

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