One half of all the non-animal foods produced in the United States today is used to feed the animals we eat. In other words, the animals we feed upon eat half of the crops we produce in this country. As if that´s not surprising enough, people do not consume the entire other half of the food crops we produce. That is because -- as a result of the petroleum shortage -- a large portion goes to bio-fuels.
How large a portion? Well, consider this: in 2000, 90% of the U.S. corn crop went to feed people and livestock. 45% is used to feed livestock, 40% is used to produce ethanol and only 15% is produced for human consumption (1).
But it gets better!
Crop and Food Production: Two Different Animals... Er, Plants
In its simplest form, crop production requires little more than photosynthesis and human cultivation. Organic foods can almost net a 100% energy return. Processed foods, on the other hand, require a great deal of energy to manufacture.
In fact, the production of one calorie of processed food requires five calories of energy. This is so because of the energy required to fuel agricultural and processing plant machinery. In other words, food that grows naturally from the sun´s energy and nutrients in the ground gross only a 1:5 return when processed.
But wait, there is more.
Wait a Second; Organic Foods Can Feed the World?
While it is true that in industrial areas, organic foods only produce 92% of the yield produced by industrial foods. However, in developing countries, organic foods produce 182% of the yield produced by industrial foods -- those produced using chemical fertilizers, hydroponics and artificial light. Simply stated, organic foods yield far more than industrial foods.
And it gets better.