Humans have for thousands of years now sustained themselves mostly on three grains: rice, wheat, and corn. But it is becoming ever clearer that the grain agriculture that humans have relied upon for all this time will not be sustainable in the future. The factors prohibiting a world grain diet are many- large populations, soil erosion, salinization, lowering water tables, and climatic change, just to name some of the major obstacles humans face in the struggle to keep hunger and famine at bay.
There is good news however. While crop yields may be difficult to sustain, the foods that can sustain humans is much more flexible. In the future, our diet may even very well be much healthier than it is now.
One simple way to replace a grain like rice is to start growing a root crop such as sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes will thrive in poor soil conditions, are hardy against pests and disease, and produce a much greater yield per acre than rice. Sweet potatoes for the most part supply calories through starch, but they are nevertheless much more nutritious than polished white rice. Similarly, wheat could be replaced with buckwheat or amaranth, and so on.
Perhaps the biggest supplier of our future food will not come from the overpopulated land, but from the earth’s vast oceans. Sea vegetables such as kelp and nori are very easy to grow and will supply our dinner tables with vitamins and minerals. While fish farming as it is practiced today does not seem promising for our future protein needs, we can at least be certain that we know plankton to be easily colonized and harvested. Undoubtedly through processing it can be made into a quite tasty and nutritious product to replace grain dependent meat.
Finally, you may have already thought about it reading this, but I’m sure insects will be on the menu as well. They might be quite tasty- you never know until you try!