Our Food Choices in the 21st Century
Life began on our planet about four billion years ago. The human species emerged just 200,000 years ago. If you crammed those four billion years of history into one year, we’ve been here for just the last 26 minutes of the last hour of that year. And our population has exploded from one billion to seven billion in just the last two seconds.
And during those last two seconds (from 1800 to 2015), we’ve completely taken over the entire planet. So, how are we now using our planet? Primarily to feed ourselves. It is a well-known fact that over 70% of the world’s useable land mass is devoted to agriculture. The problem is that we still don’t have enough land to meet the growing human demand for food.
And since we must keep trying to feed everyone, we simply steal more land from nature–destroying thirty million acres of rainforest annually since 1970, primarily to grow animals for our dinner tables. The average third grader could figure out that we have a serious problem on our hands–without even knowing about the irreplaceable biodiversity losses that are associated with rainforest destruction. What is that problem? I can summarize our global dilemma with four simple facts:
- We have a finite amount of land. And we’re not likely to find another planet that can sustain anytime soon.
- Highly inefficient diet-style. On a per calorie basis, our animal-based food choices require over ten times as much land, water and energy than plant-based foods.
- More people eating animals. Millions of people in the developing world are adding more animal-based foods in their diets.
- Human population continues to explode. Our population is growing at the rate of almost one million humans every four days.
Once again, the solution to this problem is like a “blinding flash of the obvious” to that third grader–“We need to start eating more plants!” Indeed we do, because if everyone ate the way we do in the USA and Europe, we’d need more than two planet Earths to feed us all and we only have one.
But what about our health? Doesn’t everyone know that we need to eat animal protein to be healthy? Now, we’re at the crux of the problem? Almost everyone (over 90%) in the developed world believes that “protein myth” about animal-based foods. And it’s that myth that’s locking their brains to the greatest world-changing improvement opportunity in the history of humanity.
I’m talking about a deliberate shift in the direction of plant-based foods. A move that would free up land for reforesting, save massive amounts of water, conserve vast amounts of energy, slow down global warming and promote better health for billions of people around the world.
So how do we get that deliberate shift moving? In a single word–COOPERATION. The single attribute in humans that differentiates us from all of the other millions of species that have lived on this planet. Not only do we know how to cooperate to accomplish almost anything, we’ve never been better equipped from a communications technology standpoint–in our entire 200,000-year history. We simply need a privately led and funded, MASSIVE global awareness campaign.
All we need is leadership and we can get this done. With the right group of internationally respected leaders backed by a handful of thoughtful, caring billionaires—we can get this done. And we can start moving that ecological needle in the right direction in less than a year after that campaign is launched.
How much will that MASSIVE campaign cost? Ten billion dollars? One hundred billion dollars? The cost is irrelevant. The question is: “How much is sustainability worth to the human race?”
Meet the two authors. The two books pictured above are my latest favorites. Why? Because they both focus on the “big picture” and they both draw the same conclusions about humans and our unique abilities. Ending on a good note, I want to share this quote by E.O. Wilson that appeared near the end of his book:
Human beings are not wicked by nature. We have enough intelligence, goodwill, generosity and enterprise to turn Earth into a paradise both for ourselves and for the biosphere that gave us birth. We can plausibly accomplish that goal, at least be well on the way, by the end of the present century.
In the following two videos, you will hear about why humans are capable of doing almost anything. But neither of the authors says anything about our food choices. That’s because it is likely that they too believe the protein myth mentioned earlier. But they will soon–if we’re able to launch the MASSIVE global awareness campaign needed to get us humans moving in the right direction with our all-important food choices.
The good news is that unlike some of our other global issues, our food choices can be changed relatively quickly. And by first addressing what we eat, we can buy ourselves enough time to address our other sustainability issues: overpopulation, overconsumption and our dependence on fossil fuels–all of which are promoting climate change. Now meet the two authors of the books featured earlier:
E.O. Wilson explains the meaning of human existence in 6 minutes.
Now meet the author of Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari (15 minutes)
A few of my other blogs on this overall topic of sustainability:
- 1-17-15 Racing past environmental “tipping points” in 2015
- 1-25-14 NOTHING is more Important than Sustainability!
- 10-23-14 Tearing down the single biggest roadblock to sustainability
- 2-4-14 Food Choices. The primary cause of global warming?
- 8-9-13 Were humans the “infestation” of Easter Island?
The following five books and one DVD can be purchased on Amazon for a grand total of less than $60—and will enable you to understand the overwhelming challenges we face—along with the single most-powerful solution of all.
Six-Pack from Hicks—for health, hope & harmony on planet Earth
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- A life changer for millions, including James Cameron. Forks Over Knives DVD
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell; the primary book that influenced Bill Clinton to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet.
- What have we done to our planet? Full Planet, Empty Plates by Lester Brown
- A horrifying wake-up call for leaders. TEN BILLION by Dr. Stephen Emmott
- Food choices are the primary cause of our environmental problems, yet our world leaders, scientists & experts are Comfortably Unaware, by Richard Oppenlander.
Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes 2 or 3 minutes. eCornell is now using our survey in their plant-based nutrition course. Check it out on your smartphone at eCornell.com/4Leaf-Survey.
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To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, visit our 4Leaf Program and also enjoy some great recipes from Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.
Got a question? Let me hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member since 2012; click banner for more info: