Grain Drain

Growing the grain used to feed the world’s tens of billions of industrial food animals consumes a large percentage of the fresh water, arable soils, and nitrogen fertilizers used in modern agriculture. An estimated 16 pounds of grain, for example, are needed to produce just one pound of beef. It’s a staggeringly resource-intensive way to produce food, that taxes fresh water supplies, devastates biodiversity with grain monocultures, and prevents the development of more sustainable alternatives. For nations like China, which is increasing its production and consumption of animal products, imports of feed grain serve double duty as an importation of water—a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce in the world’s most populous country.

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