The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World

The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World

Joel K. Bourne Jr


Non-fiction, Popular Science




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Click here to read an excerpt from the book.

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(Paperback | ISBN 978-93-85288-83-8 | 416 pages | October 2015)


When Malthus famously outlined the brutal relationship between food and population, he never imagined the success of modern agriculture. New seeds, chemicals and irrigation, coupled with free trade, drove the greatest global population boom in history—but left ecological devastation and an unsustainable agro-economic status quo in their wake. Now, with a greater number of mouths to feed than ever before, tightening global food supplies have spurred riots and reform around the world.

Joel K. Bourne Jr takes readers from his family farm to international agricultural hotspots, searching for new solutions that can sustainably feed us all. He visits young corporate farmers trying to restore Ukraine as Europe’s breadbasket, a Canadian aquaculturist channelling ancient Chinese traditions, the agronomist behind the world’s largest organic sugar-cane plantation, and many other people and groups, large and small, who are racing to stave off a Malthusian catastrophe. Part history, part reportage, part advocacy, The End of Plenty is a wake-up call for anyone concerned with what the coming decades will hold for our planet and its inhabitants if we don’t take action.


Click here to read an excerpt from the book.


'Much of this book is sad and scary – it's going to be hard to feed a world that we're relentlessly heating. But reading about the amazing advances being made by developing-world farmers with 'organic' agriculture left me with a vision of the planet we could still create.'—Bill McKibben

‘Joel K. Bourne Jr. has written one of the most informative, engaging books on the world food prospect I have ever read.’—Lester R. Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute

The End of Plenty takes a thoroughly researched and exceptionally thoughtful and balanced look at the consequences of industrial farming. Joel Bourne’s courageous conclusion: to feed the world’s burgeoning population, agriculture must change and population increase must stop. His book should convince every reader of the compelling need to address world food problems through more skillful and sustainable agronomy, but also through education, especially of women, and universal family planning.’— Marion Nestle, Professor at New York University, and author of Food Politics

‘Fifty years ago, as many as one out of every three people lived in hunger. Today, the figure is about one in eight--the biggest, fastest increase in human well-being in history. Now, though, agricultural scientists and economists increasingly fear that this great accomplishment is at risk. Simply put, the world's agricultural systems may not be able to provide enough food for the nine or ten billion people who will be alive in 2050. Joel Bourne, a farmer's son himself, traveled the world to explore what may be the greatest challenge facing the next generation. The result is calm, lucid—and fascinating.’—Charles C. Mann, author and judge of thePEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award 2012

The End of Plenty is an urgent and at times terrifying dispatch from a distinguished reporter who has given heart and soul to his subject. Here is a wake-up call, and also a call to action. The stakes could not be higher: To stave off apocalypse, we must grow a whole lot smarter in a hurry—starting by heeding the cutting-edge wisdom contained in Joel Bourne's richly researched and passionately argued report from the Malthusian margins.’—Hampton Sides, author of Hellhound on His Trail and contributor to National Geographic

‘Despite the lessons of climate change, water shortages and industrial-scale farming of single crops, "we are [still] literally farming ourselves out of food"…Bourne's compelling book presents challenges that are immense but not insurmountable … we must also accept a shift in mentality — from a world of plenty to a world of enough.’— The Saturday Paper

‘[Bourne] digs into the causes of our current predicament, tours the world looking for the germ of the next revolution and suggests ways we can limit population growth. A compelling call for action. Food for thought.’— Weekend Press

‘Brings a deep and passionate understanding of agriculture ... while finding hope in incipient signs of a sustainable farming revolution.’—The Age

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About the author

Joel K. Bourne Jr

Joel K. Bourne Jr is currently a Contributing Writer at National Geographic, where he has worked since 2000, first as a Senior Writer and then as Senior Editor for the Environment. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from North Carolina State University, and a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University.

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