Hi Cassidy, did you incorporate the +/-4.5 percent from animal products into the total (55%) from crops? I know that animals are more inefficient than eating plants directly, but that 1:8 ratio should still be accounted for as we do end up eating that.
Also, how do you define ‘cropland’? Does rangeland fall into that category as well? What about cropland that is in a range rotation? My concern is that a lot of marginal land is used to produce dairy or meat through grazing, and much of that may be used every 3rd or 4th year to bring up a grain for human or animal consumption (wheat/ barley).
Really interesting assessment otherwise of trends that come about from rising middle classes worldwide and how that impacts grower choices. The other things I would want anyone to consider before drawing conclusions from this is that many growers are limited/encouraged by economics and environment.
Almonds and tomatoes are only consumed by humans (save almond hulls for feed roughage on occasion), that’s why California is green: many of California’s crops are specialty food crops. But, you can’t grow almonds and tomatoes in Wisconsin very competitively. Idaho gets a pass because much of the potatoes and barley go to expanding waistlines in the form of au gratin and a certain noble beverage. Furthermore, India is largely vegetarian, much of the acreage is in small-holder farms, it doesn’t have the mechanization and scale to compete with the US’s midwest in biofuel (or dairy) production, and due to a lack of mass access to refrigeration in recent history hasn’t gotten in the habit of mass production/ consumption of dairy, so of course it’s green. India is also not nearly as productive as the US generally, as pointed out in your first map on the video yield per hectare is much lower. Otherwise, total cereal and meat export for India was about 9.5 billion (https://tradingeconomics.com/india/exports-by-categor) in 2016. Never mind what they imported (16 billion in other ag-related products). The US ag trade surplus was 20 billion, with 134 billion in ag exports. (https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/foreign-agricultural-trade-of-the-united-states-fatus/us-agricultural-trade-data-update/#U.S. agricultural exports, year-to-date and current months).
Point being, the US’s current MO produces a lot of food. It’s just that it produces a lot of food, and then some other stuff, so it ends up on the ‘wrong’ side of this study.
Last point, I think…, corn is really really productive per hectare. I don’t want to eat that much corn. Productivity would take a hit even if we shifted to a 100% vegetarian food system simply because demand would push for different crops from the midwest. I guess my overall point is that yes, our food productivity has some variability and, in one way or another, is inefficient. How we go about fixing that or do we really need to fix it? That’s a much more complicated series of questions that I doubt anyone really has the answer to.