While we produce more than enough grains, fats and sugars globally, according to the U of G’s news release, fruits and vegetables, and to a smaller degree, protein, are not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of the current population.
The findings were based on the Harvard University’s “Healthy Eating Plate” guide, which recommends that half of our diet consist of fruits and vegetables; 25 per cent, 25 per cent, whole grains; and 25 per cent, protein, fat and dairy.
The U of G researchers calculated how much land is currently used for farming, and how much would be needed if everyone followed the nutritional recommendations. They then projected those numbers for 2050, when the global population is expected to reach 9.8 billion.
They found that we now produce 12 servings of grains per person instead of the recommended eight; five servings of fruits and vegetables instead of 15; three servings of oil and fat instead of one; three servings of protein instead of five; and four servings of sugar instead of none.
Adopting a more nutritious diet would not only be good for us but also good for the planet, in terms of land savings. In fact, 50 million fewer hectares of arable land would be required, because fruits and vegetable take less land to grow than grain, sugar and fat.
Without any change, feeding 9.8 billion people will require 12 million more hectares of arable land and at least one billion more hectares of pasture land, the report’s authors said.