If everyone in the world wanted to consume fruits and vegetables to have a healthy diet, there would be no production that is enough for everyone according to a study by the University of Guelph.
The researchers who carried out the study in Canada that was published in the journal PLOS ONE, concluded that the current world agricultural system produces in excess cereals, fats and sugars, while the production of fruits and vegetables and, to a lesser extent , protein is not enough to meet the nutritional needs of the population.
"Under the current global agricultural system, not everyone would be able to adopt a healthy diet," said study co-author Professor Evan Fraser, Canada Research Professor in World Food Security and director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph.
Another detail of the study mentions that changing production to match the nutritional guidelines of a healthy diet would require 50 million hectares less of arable land, since fruits and vegetables require less land to develop than cereal or sugar, making it much more sustainable.
Farmers currently produce 12 servings of grains per person instead of the recommended eight; five servings of fruits and vegetables instead of 15; three servings of oil and fat instead of one; three servings of protein instead of five; and four servings of sugar instead of none.
Because carbohydrates are relatively easy to produce and can feed many people, developing countries focus on growing grains, said KC, lead author of the study.
He said developed countries have subsidized grain and corn production for decades to become self-sufficient and establish global leadership in their production. These countries have also spent much more money on research and innovation for these crops than for fruits and vegetables.
"Also fat, sugar and salt are tasty and are what we humans crave, so we have a real hunger for these foods," said KC. "All of these factors combined have resulted in a world system that is actually overproducing this type of food."
If the 7 billion people wanted to eat healthy, there would not be vegetables and fruits for everyone
The study based its calculations on the number of servings per person on the planet for each food group according to the Harvard University "Healthy Eating Plate" guide, which recommends that half of our diet contain fruits and vegetables; 25 percent, whole grains; and 25 percent, protein, fat and dairy.
The study found that adopting a more nutritious diet is not only good for us but also good for the planet.
"If we switched to nutritious diets, we would see a drop in the amount of land required to feed our growing population," KC said.
Without any change, feeding 9.8 billion people in 2050 will require 12 million more hectares of arable land and at least 1 billion more hectares of pasture land, Fraser said.
“Feeding the next generation is one of the most pressing challenges facing the 21st century. For a growing population, our calculations suggest that the only way to eat a nutritionally balanced diet, save land, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to consume and produce more fruit. and vegetables, as well as the transition to diets high in protein of plant origin.
With information from: