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NZ sheltered from food crises but diets will change

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What will we be eating in 30 or 40 years? With an extra couple of billion more people on the planet, how will everyone be fed, Charmian Smith asks.

Prof Hugh Campbell, of the University of Otago, foresees almost inconceivable changes in what we grow and what we eat, but New Zealand is in one of the better positions with a lot of fertile, well-watered farmland.

However, he says that instead of growing grass for livestock, lowland farmland will be converted to more productive horticulture, much as former dairy farms in the Bay of Plenty were converted to kiwifruit orchards.

Insects are high in protein and other micronutrients and like a miracle food in terms of environmental sustainability. Photo: Getty Images
Insects are high in protein and other micronutrients and like a miracle food in terms of environmental sustainability. Photo: Getty Images

“In a world market where a demand for energy sources for human consumption, let’s say, from grain and pulses and those sorts of things, really starts to escalate, you reach a point in which for New Zealand it’s more valuable to grow plants than to grow cows and sheep,” he said.

Six years ago a United Nations report said Western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products were unsustainable, and that animals and the crops to feed them were as damaging as burning fossil fuels.

Already, many New Zealanders are eating less meat and that trend is unlikely to slow, according to Prof Campbell.

Read Charmain Smith’s article in Otago Daily Times

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