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  • By the Numbers – Data Highlights from Full Planet, Empty Plates

    More than 150 data sets accompany Lester R. Brown’s latest book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity. These tables and graphs help to explain the precarious situation in which humanity finds itself, as the world leaves an era of food surpluses and enters one of food scarcity. Here are some highlights from the collection. More

  • Meat Consumption in China Now Double That in the United States

    More than a quarter of all the meat produced worldwide is now eaten in China, and the country’s 1.35 billion people are hungry for more. In 1978, China’s meat consumption of 8 million tons was one third the U.S. consumption of 24 million tons. But by 1992, China had overtaken the United States as the world’s leading meat consumer—-and it has not looked back since. More

  • World Grain Production Down in 2010, But Recovering

    World grain production fell in 2010, exacerbating a global food situation already plagued by rising prices, according to new research published by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online publication. Despite record rice and maize yields around the world, global wheat production dropped substantially enough to bring total grain output to just below 2008 levels. More

  • Rising Meat Consumption Takes Big Bite out of Grain Harvest

    World consumption of animal protein is everywhere on the rise. Meat consumption increased from 44 million tons in 1950 to 284 million tons in 2009, more than doubling annual consumption per person to over 90 pounds. The rise in consumption of milk and eggs is equally dramatic. Wherever incomes rise, so does meat consumption. As […] More

  • Growing Water Deficit Threatening Grain Harvests

      By Lester R. Brown Many countries are facing dangerous water shortages. As world demand for food has soared, millions of farmers have drilled too many irrigation wells in efforts to expand their harvests. As a result, water tables are falling and wells are going dry in some 20 countries containing half the world’s people. […] More

  • Can the United States Feed China?

    By Lester R. Brown In 1994, I wrote an article in World Watch magazine entitled “Who Will Feed China?” that was later expanded into a book of the same title. When the article was published in late August, the press conference generated only moderate coverage. But when it was reprinted that weekend on the front […] More

  • World on the Edge: When Will the Food Bubble Burst?

    “Our early 21st century civilization is in trouble. We need not go beyond the world food economy to see this. Over the last few decades we have created a food production bubble—one based on environmental trends that cannot be sustained, including overpumping aquifers, overplowing land, and overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide,” notes Lester R. […] More

  • Improving Food Security by Strategically Reducing Grain Demand

    By Lester R. Brown After several decades of rapid rise in world grain yields, it is now becoming more difficult to raise land productivity fast enough to keep up with the demands of a growing, increasingly affluent, population. From 1950 to 1990, world grainland productivity increased by 2.2 percent per year, but from 1990 until […] More

  • Millet — What is Good About It & How Do You Cook and Eat It?

    Have you heard of millet? Ever wonder what it’s good for and how to eat it? Here are a few pieces of information on millet and a few ideas of how to cook and eat it. When I was a child, our family ate a lot of millet. Most often, we had millet cooked with […] More

  • Rising Temperatures Raise Food Prices

    By Lester Brown Around midnight on Wednesday, August 11th, a group of commodity analysts will gather at a meeting site in the massive South Building of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. Once they are assembled, the door will be locked. Cell phones will be collected. Phone and Internet lines will be […] More

  • Cars and People Compete for Grain

    By Lester R. Brown At a time when excessive pressures on the earth’s land and water resources are of growing concern, there is a massive new demand emerging for cropland to produce fuel for cars—one that threatens world food security. Although this situation had been developing for a few decades, it was not until Hurricane […] More

  • Wheatless Wednesday: Ethiopian Teff from the Pyramids to the Present

    Many people have never heard of teff, but this unique gluten-free grain dates back to the age of the pyramids.  Most often ground into flour to make injera, a fermented flat bread, teff has served as a primary food source in Ethiopia and Eritrea since approximately 3000 B.C.  Despite its enduring history as an African […] More

  • Rethinking Food Production for a World of Eight Billion

    by Lester R. Brown In April 2005, the World Food Programme and the Chinese government jointly announced that food aid shipments to China would stop at the end of the year. For a country where a generation ago hundreds of millions of people were chronically hungry, this was a landmark achievement. Not only has China […] More