Future of Food CoverFuture of Food Cover

Still hungry after devouring our September 2013 single topic issue: Food? Engage in some guilt-free gluttony with our new companion eBook: Can We Feed the World? The Future of Food. With global population numbers projected to increase by 2 billion by 2050, a veritable food crisis is on the horizon. In this eBook, we examine some of the complex causative factors involved in the coming “food crisis” and the innovative ideas and technologies designed to increase food production sustainably. We also explore current industry methods to increase production and the controversies surrounding them, including hot-button issues like genetically modified (or GM) and processed foods as well as food safety and the physical effects of the modern diet.

To start the discussion, Jonathan Foley throws down the gauntlet with “The Grand Challenge: Can We Feed the World and Sustain the Planet?” He takes a macroscopic look at the coming crisis and presents five solutions that could double the world’s food production by mid-century while decreasing greenhouse-gas emissions and curbing environmental damage. Other articles discuss technologies ranging from more sustainable offshore fish farming to “vertical farms,” and an entire section tackles GM crops. Hugely controversial, GM crops are either the magic bullet that will save millions from starvation or Frankenstein’s monster. Don’t miss Sasha Nemecek’s “The Pros and Cons of GM Foods,” in which she interviews experts on both sides of this issue, as well as “Three Myths about Genetically Modified Crops,” by Natasha Gilbert and Nature magazine.

Later, we delve into the processed food industry, taking a magnifying glass to fast food and high fructose corn syrup. We also probe a number of food safety issues, including methods for monitoring sources of contamination and preventing food poisoning. Don’t miss journalist Maryn McKenna’s eye-opening “Food Poisoning’s Hidden Legacy,” which discusses possible lifelong health consequences. The last section, “Evolution of the Modern Diet,” takes a look at the history and effects of contemporary eating methods. A story by William R. Leonard and a Q&A with Richard Wrangham explain how our big brains might have evolved as a direct result of cooking our food.

With all the possibilities on the horizon–from GM crops to new technologies in farming and fishing–world hunger does not have to be inevitable, but we’ll need to be resourceful in managing the food supply so that we can preserve the planet and ourselves.