There are more than 7 billion people living on the planet now, and it looks like there’ll be another 2 billion of us by the middle of the century. In our series, “Food for 9 Billion,” we’ve been asking what it’s going to take to keep us all fed. Over the last year, we’ve looked at how to boost food production without destroying the environment, how to deal with water shortages and climate change, and how to get policies right on things like food prices and nutrition. We’ve also looked at the demand side — like how to slow population growth and cut down on waste. Sometimes those questions can feel pretty remote — especially at a time of year when it seems like all we do is eat. But we’re part of the picture, too.
If you look at all the challenges facing food producers around the world, you could argue that the most daunting one is climate change. Higher temperatures, higher sea levels, crazy weather…
Well, it turns out our food system isn’t just challenged by climate change — it’s also one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas. Most of it comes from the production end — methane from cattle, nitrous oxide from fertilizer, CO2 from cutting down trees — but several recent studies have concluded that we will never be truly food-secure unless we change the way we eat. Which is why I went to Baltimore.
There, I met up with Spike Gjerde, the chef of Woodberry Kitchen, which has received national praise for its seasonal, locally sourced food. We were also joined by Roni Neff, the research and policy director at the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and an expert in the connection between climate change and diet.
I decided to give both of them a challenge: to shop for and prepare a festive, not-so-expensive, not-so-hard-to-make, climate-friendly meal.