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  • Writer's pictureRebel Sustainability

9750 Calories Per Day

Updated: Sep 29, 2021


Nine thousand, seven hundred and fifty.

Read it again. That’s the number of calories per person that are grown by farmers globally every single day.

The average adult needs roughly 2,350 calories in a varied diet to sustain a healthy lifestyle, so how are so many people on our planet starving and malnourished?

Springfield Agri have just hosted a brilliant 3-day virtual conference focusing on our soil health, land management and agriculture, bringing together farmers, researchers and experts from across the industry and the globe to look at where we’re going wrong and how we might go about correcting our course.

One session in particular, by Catherine Weetman, highlighted some shocking truths, such as the wild growth in use of fertilisers of which almost 70% have no effect or uptake by the crops. Who’s winning there? It would seem just the fertiliser companies – because the farmers are being shafted if 70% of their purchase is redundant.

Anyway, back to the calories. Of those 9,750 [per person] that are grown daily, 5,000 are fed to animals. Our calorific return on that investment comes out at 590. A meek 12%.

Yup. We feed animals 5,000 calories for the joy of 590 back in the form of meat which is usually pumped with antibiotics and exposed to other chemicals that are frankly making a crappy situation worse.

At some point we’re going to have to grapple with the question of whether those T-bone steaks, chicken kiev’s and rashers of bacon are really worth the risk of allowing antibiotic resistant strains of who-knows-what to develop, risking open surgeries and simple medical procedures becoming ineffective.

Not sure about you, but the thought of dying from a small, infected cut isn’t appealing. The thought of our future children dying from the same is even more horrifying.

The really frustrating, but equally encouraging point is that the solutions are insanely simple. Cut down our meat consumption; after all it’s only the post-war generations and Wester cultures of wealthier nations where daily meat consumption has become a thing. Western nations averaging 220lbs consumed per person annually, compared to 22lbs pp in many African nations.

Next, we need to ensure the meat we do consume is reared in a way that doesn’t compromise our health. There are a growing number of farmers ditching antibiotics and accepting that our treatment of animals in industrial agriculture is wrong. Let animals feed in their natural ways on pastures, supplementing their diet where needed rather than cramming them full of soy which fuels vast deforestation across the planet. While we’re at it, house them in environments that are safe and don’t encourage the spread of disease. As much as 80% of all the soy grown globally is fed to animals, despite it having numerous direct health benefits for humans. A similar % of many countries antibiotic imports are used in agriculture too.

It’s wild that we have such a colossal fight ahead of us to achieve this, but money talks and those earning vast sums through sale of bulked out meat won’t take cuts to their profits lying down. Of the £225 billion UK food industry, only 8% of that goes to farmers. It’s no secret that Brexit is applying further pressure to our agriculture sector. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s about time we started truly appreciating the people that feed us.

I’m a believer that solving our climate crisis can’t just be a consumer movement. While we as individuals definitely need to make smarter choices about our diets and where we spend our £’s, $’s, €’s and Yen, so long as people can legally increase profits immorally, they will. We’re not going to overcome the greed of the top 1% in a day, so legislation has to bolster the efforts of the environmentalist movement to not just encourage, but force companies and stakeholders to adapt their systems, supply chains, partnerships, everything, to be low-carbon and move in the direction of circularity. So long as our economy is purely linear we’ll never reduce our consumption or waste and the exploitation that comes as part of that enough to give future generations a fighting chance.

If you enjoyed this blog, why not read some of our other blogs? Or get in contact with us if you require advice on recruitment within the sustainability sector.


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