Human Ecology

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 459–471 | Cite as

Reducing Energy Inputs in the US Food System

  • David PimentelEmail author
  • Sean Williamson
  • Courtney E. Alexander
  • Omar Gonzalez-Pagan
  • Caitlin Kontak
  • Steven E. Mulkey


Petroleum and natural gas are the primary fuels in the US food system. Both fuels are now in short supply and significant quantities are being imported into the USA from various nations. An investigation documented that fossil energy use in the food system could be reduced by about 50% by appropriate technology changes in food production, processing, packaging, transportation, and consumption. The results suggest that overall, farmers benefit as well as consumers.


Agriculture Energy conservation Food packaging Food system Food transport Land resources Nutrients USA 



We wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti for the partial support of our research through the Albert Podell Grant Program.

We also wish to thank the following people for their helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper: Piero Conforti, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, Rome, Italy; Faye Duchin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY; Andrew Ferguson, Optimum Population Trust, Manchester, UK; Richard B. Ferguson, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE; P.W. Gerbens-Leenes, University of Twente, The Netherlands; Rattan Lal, President, Soil Science Society of America, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; Marguerite Renouf, University of Queensland, QLD, Au; Jaap Schroder, Plant Research International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Pimentel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sean Williamson
    • 1
  • Courtney E. Alexander
    • 1
  • Omar Gonzalez-Pagan
    • 1
  • Caitlin Kontak
    • 1
  • Steven E. Mulkey
    • 1
  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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