Calories Per Acre of Various Foods – Potatoes Win!

[CORRECTED POST] In the Permaculture Movement, we are interested in Feeding People Sustainably. So we are interested in producing the most calories possible in a given land area. But not just any calories. You would not be very healthy if, for example, you got all your calories from refined sugar! But, interestingly, you COULD get all your calories from potatoes if you had to and you would survive. That is fascinating to me, which is why I started growing potatoes last year. So how may people could you feed from an acre of potatoes? Well, considering that you need about 1 million calories per year per person (using the adult male number of about 3000 calories per day), according to THIS ARTICLE, you could feed 17 people from one acre!! Wow. Has anyone ever tried eating a “potato only” diet? Yes, actually. His name is Chris Voigt and you can read about his experiment HERE. Chris says “My doctor is interested to see the final results, and he suspected I would be just fine at the end of 60 days.” Hmm. You’d have to get really creative with your recipes I guess. Ok so now my wheels are really turning … 17 million calories per acre from potatoes. And here’s the “100 lbs of Potatoes from 4 Square Feet” article I linked on Facebook earlier. But both systems need compost.  Stay tuned for compost calculations.

[PREVIOUS ERRONEOUS VERSION OF POST - DISREGARD - TREE LEAF COMPOST ARTICLE HAD A HUGE CALCULATION ERROR] In the Permaculture Movement, we are interested in Feeding People Sustainably. So we are interested in producing the most calories possible in a given land area. But not just any calories. You would not be very healthy if, for example, you got all your calories from refined sugar! But, interestingly, you COULD get all your calories from potatoes if you had to and you would survive. That is fascinating to me, which is why I started growing potatoes last year. So how may people could you feed from an acre of potatoes? Well, considering that you need about 1 million calories per year per person (using the adult male number of about 3000 calories per day), according to THIS ARTICLE, you could feed 17 people from one acre!! Wow. Has anyone ever tried eating a “potato only” diet? Yes, actually. His name is Chris Voigt and you can read about his experiment HERE. Chris says “My doctor is interested to see the final results, and he suspected I would be just fine at the end of 60 days.” Hmm. You’d have to get really creative with your recipes I guess. Ok so now my wheels are really turning … 17 million calories per acre from potatoes. And here’s the “100 lbs of Potatoes from 4 Square Feet” article I linked on Facebook earlier. But both systems need compost.  Well, my previous article “Tree Leaf Composting Calculations” told us we can get 65 tons(!) (240 Cubic Yards) of tree leaf compost per acre each year. If we applied all this compost to our 1 acre potato garden every year, that would be almost 2″ (1.78″ to be exact) of new compost applied every year. I should think that would do the job.  So … to have a truly sustainable “Feed the World With Potatoes System,” and if it required 1.78″ of new tree leaf compost every year to keep the potatoes growing each year, then it actually requires 2 acres to feed 17 people sustainably – 1 acre to grow the potatoes plus another acre to grow the compost.  That’s 8.5 people (grown men) fed per acre sustainably on potatoes only year round. Yes, I know that we want to eat more things than just potatoes, but for an engineer geek like me, this is an enlightening calculation. 

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