The Crop That Will Skyrocket Most This Century Isn't Really a Food at All

Illustration for article titled The Crop That Will Skyrocket Most This Century Isn't Really a Food at All

The world at the end of this century won’t look the same as it does today. It will be hotter and drier, with far less available space in which to grow food—and the crop that will be doing the best under that new system won’t be a food crop at all.

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The USDA put out this chart detailing which crops we can expect to rise and fall in the next 65 years. I’d previously covered a USDA projection that wheat will unseat corn as the fastest growing of our staple crops by 2080. By 2060, however, hay will be growing even faster, and by 2080 it will have completely overshadowed the growth of all other food crops combined.

Illustration for article titled The Crop That Will Skyrocket Most This Century Isn't Really a Food at All

Hay is not a food for people at all, but for livestock. Essentially, it’s food once removed. We could feed more cattle with that extra hay, but they’ll also need more water and more space, both of which will be in short supply.

In other words, it’s hard to think of a worse crop for the needs of a growing future population. It highlights one of the big problems with farming in a changing climate. Some crops will do better in the hotter, drier climate than others, but we can’t choose which crops those will be—and, although there will be losses and gains on both sides, they will by no means be equal.

Top image: Satellite view of farms in Brazil / Terry Virts, NASA Johnson

[USDA]

Follow the author @misra.

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DISCUSSION

SheldonPlankton
SheldonPlankton

Every time a story like this “crops” up I have to take the opportunity and sound like a Peta Whacko (though I am in reality an ex-beef eater that places NO judgement on those that do eat meat).

Please people - consider reducing or altogether eliminating meat from your diet - here are the reasons:

- Ethical (for those of you who don’t want to eat little critters and break up little families of creatures

- Religious (if you’re Hindu or Rosecrucian)

- Economical (if you want to save some serious dough)

- Health (clinical studies have WITHOUT DOUBT proven vegetarian is healthier and vegan is healthiest - though vegan is probably asking too much of this audience)

- Environmental (meat takes a LOT more resources to ‘grow’ than vegetables)

OR... you can just continue to be a slave of just simple taste and texture.. for which there are now many substitutes that are very close to the ‘real thing’.

Honestly it’s just a matter of your willingness to apply a little discipline.

... now.. ANYONE want to throw the following argument at me: “**we’re Human and God made us greater than the lower animals - the lower animals were put on earth for us to consume them**”???