Head into a grocery store these days and consumers are offered aisles upon aisles of food choices. It’s been said that annually, food producers raise enough food to feed 144 people. With this efficiency, consumers can enjoy their favorite foods in abundance. As a result of our food surplus, new food options have become available, and as a result, conventional agriculture is under attack in favor of natural, organic and locally grown options. While I think it’s great and noble that consumers are trying to do better for themselves and the environment, I believe sometimes these food claims can be misleading. Apparently, others agree with me, as well.
In a recent meeting, Jude Capper, Ph.D., assistant professor of dairy sciences at Washington State University, told his audience of animal nutrition specialists that, “as a food industry, we must use a whole-system approach and assess environmental impact per gallon of milk, pound of beef or dozen eggs, not per farm or per acre.” Read on to learn more about his views on 1940’s agriculture verses today’s advanced food production.
As consumers increasingly aim to make environmentally responsible food purchases, they need to base their decision on sound science. However, according to a presenter at the 71st Cornell Nutrition Conference held in Syracuse, N.Y., the ‘intuitively correct’ food choice is often the least environmentally friendly option.
“Consumer demand for milk, meat and eggs is going to increase as the population continues to grow,” Capper says. “Therefore, the vital role of improved productivity and efficiency in reducing environmental impact must be conveyed to government, food retailers and consumers.”