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Book empowers readers to help solve the food crisis
Date:2/5/2014

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Carbon dioxide emissions from transportation, energy generation and built infrastructure may be major contributors to climate change, but they may not be the biggest ones. According to UC Santa Barbara environmental science professor David A. Cleveland, that dubious distinction could go to the agrifood system.

In his new book, "Balancing on a Planet: The Future of Food and Agriculture," Cleveland contends today's solutions continue the Neolithic strategy that has dominated food systems since the beginning of agriculture some 13,000 years ago. This is a supply-side strategy of increasing food production in response to the demands of a growing population expected to peak at 9 billion or more and growing per capita consumption, especially of highly inefficient animal foods. According to Cleveland, this has undermined the biophysical basis of agriculture as well as the social and biological purpose of food. He says this is largely because increasing food production and consumption today means investing in techniques such as land clearing, massive water and energy consumption and the application of nitrogen fertilizers that worsen the crisis, including driving global climate change.

"In addition, food follows money in this system, not human need for good nutrition and happiness," Cleveland said. "The result is high levels of inequality, with both over- and under-consumption of food, resulting in hunger, malnutrition and disease. For these and other reasons, there is an urgent need to think critically about our agrifood system. We require radical alternatives that prioritize human need and long-term ecosystem health over short-term production and economic profit."

Cleveland's book seeks to encourage critical thinking by explaining the key concepts for understanding the problems that result from our agrifood system, and identifying potential solutions. "This requires a thorough analysis of the assumptions about
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Contact: Julie Cohen
julie.cohen@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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