Crops grown for food (green) versus for animal feed and fuel (purple)
Just 55 percent of the world’s crop calories are actually eaten directly by people. Another 36 percent is used for animal feed. And the remaining 9 percent goes toward biofuels and other industrial uses…
The proportions are even more striking in the United States, where just 27 percent of crop calories are consumed directly — wheat, say, or fruits and vegetables grown in California. By contrast, more than 67 percent of crops — particularly all the soy grown in the Midwest — goes to animal feed. And a portion of the rest goes to ethanol and other biofuels.
Some of that animal feed eventually becomes food, obviously — but it’s a much, much more indirect process. It takes about 100 calories of grain to produce just 12 calories of chicken or 3 calories worth of beef, for instance.
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