Many of these foods have the potential to help solve the climate crisis and feed a growing population. Plus, they’re nutritious and tasty and can be affordable and accessible.
The world is facing a hunger catastrophe. As many as 2.3 billion people (29.3%) on the planet were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021, that’s 350 million more compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic began, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, more than 38 million people, including 12 million children, are food insecure, the USDA says.
Climate change and associated severe weather, droughts, fires, pests, and diseases are already threatening the production of food around the world, according to the United Nations. On top of that, the human population is approaching 8 billion, putting unprecedented demands on food supply.
Many of the ways we produce our food are a major contributor to climate change. Our food system—producing food, transporting it and throwing wasted food in landfills, produces about 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
To take on the challenges of climate change and sustainability in food production, transformation of the way food is currently manufactured and consumed is necessary to feed the growing population while limiting its environmental impact, according to the science journal Future Foods.
A 2019 report by World Wildlife Fund and the German food brand Knorr says that 75% of the global food supply comes from only 12 plant and five animal species, and that this dietary monotony limits our nutritional options and is linked to a decline in the diversity of plants and animals used in and around agriculture, threatening the resilience of our food system.
Adopting more sustainable diets, especially reducing meat consumption, could lead to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector, the U.N. says. Better soil management, using less pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and growing crops that use less water are also solutions.
The Knorr report, Future 50 Foods, recommends a variety of plants, grains, beans, fruits and vegetable and leafy greens that we should eat more of because they are nutritious, have a lower impact on the planet than animal-based foods, and can be affordable, accessible and tasty.
You may have heard of some of these foods, or even eaten them, but here’s why you may see more of them in the future.