An award-winning environmental journalist introduces a new generation of farmers and scientists on the frontlines of the next green revolution.
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.
'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, president of Earth Policy Institute and author of Full Planet, Empty Plates
View all reviews
‘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 of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, 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 of 1491 and 1493
‘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, editor-at-large for Outside magazine and author of IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE
'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
'An agronomist-turned-journalist, Bourne is a lively guide to the history, science and economics of getting tucker on our plates. He 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.'
Nicholas Butler, Weekend Press, Christchurch
‘Brings a deep and passionate understanding of agriculture … while finding hope in incipient signs of a sustainable farming revolution.’
Fiona Capp, The Age
'A finely balanced book, serious without being depressing, meticulously researched without sacrificing accessibility. It is full of stories as well as facts ... If Bourne is right that feeding the world in the 21st century is "the biggest collective hurdle humanity has ever faced", then we owe it to ourselves to get informed.'
Make Wealth History
‘An engaging look at the challenges we are likely to face producing sufficient food in an ages of unprecedented global population, environmental impact and climate change.’
Martin Ford, FT ‘Best Books of 2015’