Earth isn't big enough to sustain a global American diet

The diet recommended by the US Department of Agriculture would be unsustainable if adopted across the globe, a new study warns. Earth lacks the landmass necessary to sustain the agriculture necessary for a worldwide Western diet. Researchers estimate the planet would require a new piece of land approximately the size of Canada to feed the global population.

The USDA maintains dietary guidelines designed to advise the public on healthy food choices. The guidelines are presented in a simplistic fashion, including a half-plate of fruit and vegetables with an emphasis on whole fruits. Protein and grains make up the other half of the plate, which grains being only slightly greater than protein.

The agency also recommends a severing of dairy, pushing consumers toward low-fat and fat-free dairy options or yogurt, as well as varied protein sources. A new study published in PLUS ONE reveals that Earth would be unable to sustain such a diet if it were adopted across the world. The reason? A lack of adequate land.

The study is out of the University of Guelph, where researchers warn that nations should consider the sustainability of recommended diets in addition to their impact on individual health. The issue isn't quite as simple as it seems, though. The existing USDA guidelines improve past dietary recommendations, reducing the amount of landmass needed to sustain it.

By adopting these guidelines, the study found, Western countries would reduce how much land they need to feed their populations. However, Eastern countries would require greater amounts of land if they transitioned to the same dietary guidelines, ultimately putting a greater demand on the planet.

SOURCE: EurekAlert