Reprinted from Chapter 7 of "Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Law," published by ELI Press.

Document Type



This article, focusing on produce and grain, discusses the environmental and climate change impacts of food production, processing, packaging, and distribution, which ultimately contribute to both economic and social costs. The article addresses environmental energy costs in the food supply. Figure 1 shows, for example, the significant amount of energy used in various aspects of food production, transportation, and processing.

Much of this article's focus will be on commodity crops. Along with wheat and rice, corn and soybeans constitute the world's most popular planted and consumed crops. The United States is the leading producer of corn, growing nearly 40 percent of the world's total, with more than half of that production coming from only 20 percent of U.S. corn growers. In 2008 over 85 million acres of corn and more than 75 million acres of soybeans were planted in the United States, and the crops "have faced increasing demand in the world market over the past ten years as they are sources of both human and animal food.”