National Geographic's Portrait of the Global Food Crisis

National Geographic's Portrait of the Global Food Crisis


While it's unlikely that there'll be any shortage of food at Memorial Day grill-outs across the country this weekend, National Geographic has released a special report on the global food crisis that's occurring at the same time.

In "The End of Plenty," writer Joel K. Bourne, Jr., and photojournalist John Stanmeyer address the fact that agricultural productivity isn't keeping up with population growth, and humanity's looked the other way. "For most of the past decade, the world has been consuming more food than it has been producing," Bourne writes. Consequently, the cost of wheat, corn, rice, and other basic commodities has skyrocketed worldwide, hitting the world's poorest billion people the hardest. And the situation will only get worse: based on the world's booming population, we'll need to double our current food production by 2030 in order to keep up with demand. Simply stated: there isn't going to be enough food to go around.

Predictably, the root of the problem lies with agribusiness, and the synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and genetic engineering that come along with it. Overconsumption of meat is a problem, too: it takes up to 10 times more grain to get the same amount of calories from eating US grain-fed beef as it does from eating the grain itself. This alone is reason enough for a city to go meatless!

Check out the stunning photo slideshow, which profiles the world's interdependent food system. Do you feel the same urgency to address the world's food crisis?

©2009 John Stanmeyer/National Geographic

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