Written by an agronomist turned journalist, The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World starts with Malthus’s ill-fated prediction that humanity would have starved a century ago and takes us through the green revolution and the limits we may be reaching today to feed the earth’s population without destroying the very earth we depend on.
Many of the stories are frightening but they are balanced by others that show that relatively small changes, none of which involve going back to gruel, can feed all of us for a long time to come. For instance, the author talks about experiments in integrated aquaculture that include fish, oysters and other shellfish, together with sea cucumbers and kelp to filter the waste produced by the other animals. And, perhaps more practically, about process changes in Ukraine wheat farms that allow grain elevators to triple their daily processing capacity. All this from someone who can casually recall attending a weed science class in college with a professor who thought DDT was the best chemical ever invented.