Lecture focuses on planning for future food production

Maia Zewert

Michael Hamm is looking towards the future.

Hamm, who works at Michigan State University as the C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and the director of the Center for Regional Food Systems, spoke at the Memorial Union Thursday evening on the future of sustainable agriculture, the growing world population and what it means for the future of our economy and our nation’s security.

“We’re going to have more mouths to feed, and we’re going to have to start thinking of ways to do that right now,” Hamm said.

Hamm said 360 billion pounds of food are consumed in the United States each year. As the population of the world grows, so will the amount of food consumed.

Water and land availability will also play an important part in the increased food production. One state that could be seriously affected by this future is California.

Right now, 50 percent of all domestic production takes place in California. In the future, California would have to meet the increasing demand of food with fewer resources.

“As we move forward, we’re going to need an increasing amount of food that will need to be produced using less water and less land,” Hamm said.

Hamm focused part of the lecture on the health of Americans.  He said the second leading cause of death following tobacco smoking is poor diet paired with physical inactivity.

“Only 10 percent of the population is eating the daily recommended fruit and vegetables,” Hamm said. “The average person only eats half.”

However, Hamm did point out that if people across the country started eating the recommended intake, the United States would be 4 million acres short of production.

To illustrate his point, Hamm explained that in order to meet this need, America would need “another two or three California’s.”

Hamm pointed out that as a land grant school, Iowa State has a huge opportunity to make a difference in the future of food production by providing students an opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills and developing an understanding of sustainability and the food system.

“We have a good chance to make a difference,” Hamm said.