Home Living Sustainable Living North American Diets Require More Land Than We Have

North American Diets Require More Land Than We Have

If the global population adopted recommended North American dietary guidelines, there wouldn’t be enough land to provide the food required, according to a new study co-authored by University of Guelph researchers.

The researchers found that global adherence to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines would require one giga-hectare of additional land — roughly the size of Canada — under current farming practice. Their findings are published in PLOS ONE. Prof. Madhur Anand, director of the Global Ecological Change and Sustainability lab where the study was undertaken, said:

Although the dietary guidelines are viewed as an improvement on the current land-intensive diet of the average American, the researchers say that dietary guidelines should be further developed using not just health, but also global land use and equity as criteria. Anand, a professor in U of G’s School of Environmental Sciences (SES), said:

The authors found a strong east-west division worldwide. Most Western Hemisphere countries would use less land by adopting a USDA guideline diet, while most Eastern Hemisphere countries would use more land.

Co-authors of the paper are U of G Prof. Evan Fraser, holder of a Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security; SES graduate student Sarah Rizvi; Chris Pagnutti, an NSERC post-doctoral researcher in SES; and Prof. Chris Bauch, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Waterloo. Anand added:

The authors call for international coordination of national dietary guidelines because global lands are a limited resource, with Anand saying:

Fraser, scientific director of the Food from Thought project and director of the Arrell Food Institute at U of G, added:

This research was supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant and is associated with the University of Guelph’s Food from Thought project, supported by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The project is intended to increase the sustainability and productivity of global food production through leading-edge data science, agri-food research, and biodiversity science.

Provided by: Lori Bona Hunt, University of Guelph [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

Like this article? Subscribe to our weekly email for more!     

Troy Oakes
Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.

Most Popular

How a Little Monkey Saved a Village

This is the true story of a villager who lived near Mount Jinfo in Chongqing, China, and how he saved a monkey only to...

Inks Containing Lead Likely Used as Drier on Ancient Egyptian Papyri

Analyzing 12 ancient Egyptian papyri fragments with X-ray microscopy, University of Copenhagen researchers were surprised to find previously unknown lead compounds in both red...

China’s Debt-Trap Diplomacy Is Weighing on Africa

It is normal for richer nations to give loans to poorer countries. But what is problematic is when the lender tries to use the...

Biden’s Pick for Treasurer Opposed China Tech Restrictions

Democratic U.S. presidential contender Joe Biden intends to make former Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen his administration’s Secretary of the Treasury, The Wall Street...