May 2014 Nat’l Geographic Cover story: EAT Serving more than 7 billion every day

The link to the article:  Feeding 9 Billion | National Geographic.


To feed our hungry planet, we must change the way we farm – and the way we think.

By Jonathan Foley

“When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.”

from pg 35 of the hard copy


Where will we find enough food for 9 billion?

A Five Step Plan to FEED THE WORLD

It doesn’t have to be factory farms versus small, organic ones. There’s another way. 

By 2050 we’ll need to feed two billion more people. How can we do that without overwhelming the planet?


  • When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.
  • Agriculture is among the greatest contributors to global warming, emitting more greenhouse gases than all our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined—largely from
    • methane released by cattle and rice farms,
    • nitrous oxide from fertilized fields, and
    • carbon dioxide from the cutting of rain forests to grow crops or raise livestock.
    • Farming is the thirstiest user of our precious water supplies and a major polluter, as runoff from fertilizers and manure disrupts fragile lakes, rivers, and coastal ecosystems across the globe.
    • Agriculture also accelerates the loss of biodiversity. As we’ve cleared areas of grassland and forest for farms, we’ve lost crucial habitat, making agriculture a major driver of wildlife extinction.
  • The environmental challenges posed by agriculture are huge, and they’ll only become more pressing as we try to meet the growing need for food worldwide.
  • We’ll likely have two billion more mouths to feed by mid-century—more than nine billion people.
  • The spread of prosperity across the world, especially in China and India, is driving an increased demand for meat, eggs, and dairy, boosting pressure to grow more corn and soybeans to feed more cattle, pigs, and chickens.
  • If these trends continue, the double whammy of population growth and richer diets will require us to roughly double the amount of crops we grow by 2050.
The author goes on to state, “I was fortunate to lead a team of scientists who confronted this simple question: How can the world double the availability of food while simultaneously cutting the environmental harm caused by agriculture? After analyzing reams of data on agriculture and the environment, we proposed five steps that could solve the world’s food dilemma.”


  1. Freeze Agriculture’s Footprint…. Avoiding further deforestation must be a top priority. 


  2. Grow More on Farms We’ve Got…. Using high-tech, precision farming systems, as well as approaches borrowed from organic farming, we could boost yields in these places several times over.

    • LEAVE DRAKES BAY OYSTER FARM RIGHT WHERE IT IS, it doesn’t take high tech farming systems, it is already 100% organic, and it employs local people to produce a sustainable, renewable food source.

  3. Use Resources More Efficiently….Many growers apply customized blends of fertilizer tailored to their exact soil conditions, which helps minimize the runoff of chemicals into nearby waterways. Organic farming can also greatly reduce the use of water and chemicals

    • Oyster Farming requires neither fertilizers nor chemicals, and uses no added water!

  4. Shift Diets….For every 100 calories of grain we feed animals, we get only about 40 new calories of milk, 22 calories of eggs, 12 of chicken, 10 of pork, or 3 of beef. Finding more efficient ways to grow meat and shifting to less meat-intensive diets…could free up substantial amounts of food across the world. Curtailing the use of food crops for biofuels could also go a long way toward enhancing food availability.

    • Oysters were once a staple on menus. Shifting back to a sustainable, renewable, ecologically and environmentally beneficial source of food production is a good thing.  No one’s using oysters for bio-fuels either!

  5. Reduce Waste. An estimated 25 percent of the world’s food calories … are lost or wasted before they can be consumed. In rich countries … waste occurs in homes, restaurants, or supermarkets. In poor countries food is often lost between the farmer and the market, due to unreliable storage and transportation.  Of all of the options for boosting food availability, tackling waste would be one of the most effective.

    • Oysters come in individually nature wrapped packages, buy what you need, eat what you bought, simple!

    • Shells can be used in so many ways

      • whole they provide habitat restoration 

      • crushed they can be used as 

        • organic fertilizer

        • ground cover

Looks like Oyster production is the hands down winner in the world food shortage dilema.


Jonathan Foley directs the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. Jim Richardson’s portraits of farmers are the latest in his body of work documenting agriculture. George Steinmetz’s big-picture approach reveals the landscapes of industrial food.

The magazine thanks The Rockefeller Foundation and members of the National Geographic Society for their generous support of this series of articles.

All maps and graphics: Virginia W. Mason and Jason Treat, NGM Staff. A World Demanding More, source: David Tilman, University of Minnesota. Agriculture’s Footprint, source: Roger LeB. Hooke, University of Maine. Maps, source: Global Landscapes Initiative, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota.



PS: I do not normally insert my opinions into published articles yet this one was prime for making the points evident to all of us who wish to see Drakes Bay Oyster Farm continue not only for its historical benefits; or its local, sustainable, renewable, environmental benefits, or for the fact that 25 workers some there for decades, will have to uproot their entire families and move out of state if they wish to continue the only work they have known, or because every environmental organization upon the formation of the Point Reyes National Seashore and the creation of the Wilderness Act recognized the existence of and championed the continuation in perpetuity of the oyster farm, but also because we already have a food shortage problem and it is only going to get worse, fast. Preserving this oyster farm and establishing more of them as Congress has charged coastal states to do, is the right thing for our planet and our people.

Jane Gyorgy

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1 Comment

  1. Milly Biller

     /  June 28, 2014

    Right on Jane

    On Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 9:11 PM, Drakes Bay Oyster Company & the National Park Service. Watch the video, THE FRAMING OF AN OYSTER FARM


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