Science 3 min read

New Study Shows Flaws of the Global Agricultural System

marcin jucha /

marcin jucha /

A new study just revealed that the global agricultural system is not producing enough fruits and vegetables to feed the world’s population.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Guelph in Canada found that there wouldn’t be enough fresh produce available should everyone on Earth decided to adopt a healthy diet. According to the study, the global agricultural system is overproducing grains, fats, and sugars, but not enough fruits and vegetables.

“We simply can’t all adopt a healthy diet under the current global agriculture system. Results show that the global system currently overproduces grains, fats, and sugars, while production of fruits and vegetables and, to a smaller degree, protein is not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of the current population,” Prof. Evan Fraser, the director of U of G’s Arrell Food Institute, said in a statement.

In their paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers explained how they calculated the number of servings per person globally for each food group based on the “Healthy Eating Plate” guide made by Harvard University.  The manual recommends that half of a person’s diet should be comprised of fruit and vegetables while the remaining half is made up of whole grains, protein, fat, and dairy.

Read more: Why Urban Farms are the Future of Food Production

The Global Agricultural System Can’t Sustain our Fruit and Vegetable Needs

For their calculation, Prof. Fraser and his team took into consideration the total land used today for farming and how much would be needed should everyone on the planet suddenly follow the recommended dietary food allowance.

Their computation revealed that our global agricultural system is producing:

  • 12 servings of grains per person instead of the recommended 8 servings;
  • 3 servings of oil and fat instead of 1;
  • 3 servings of protein instead of 5;
  • 4  servings of sugar instead of none; and
  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables instead of 15.

According to Prof. Fraser and his colleagues, what we are globally producing now is not what we should be producing as per the advice of nutritionists. The study further suggests that we would be able to conserve about 50 million hectares of arable land if the nutritional dietary guidelines were followed.

“Feeding the next generation is one of the most pressing challenges facing the 21st century. For a growing population, our calculations suggest that the only way to eat a nutritionally balanced diet, save land and reduce greenhouse gas emission is to consume and produce more fruits and vegetables as well as the transition to diets higher in plant-based protein,” Prof. Fraser went on to say.

Does your family’s daily food intake follow Harvard University’s Healthy Eating Plate guide?

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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