American environmental author Daniel Quinn coined the term Food Race (by analogy to the Cold War ’s “ nuclear arms race „) to describe an understanding of the current overpopulation emergency as a perpetually escalating crisis between growing human population and growing food production, fueled by the latter. Quinn argues that the world population increases. However, assuming that population increases according to increased food availability, Quinn argues that this response only ends up leading to a larger population and thus greater starvation in the end. Therefore, Quinn’s clear solution to the Food Race – a common sense or intuitive response; instead, it derives from seemingly counter-intuitive or „outside-the-box“ thinking.


Quinn bases the Food Race on the premise that the total human population, like that of all other animals, is influenced by food supply. Thus, larger populations are the result of more abundant food supplies, and intensification of food growth in population growth. Quinn Compared this to the arms race in the Cold War, Noting That Any Increase in food supply is met with a Corresponding Increase in population. Like Garrett Hardin , then, Quinn sees the only possible conclusions to the Food Race as either abandonment (of such a „race“) or disaster.

Comparison to Malthusian Catastrophe

The superficial similarities between this concept and a Malthusian catastrophe are obvious, but Quinn himself notes certain key differences. The primary problem in Malthusian is a population growing larger than its food supply can support; in Quinn ’s view, this is not possible, it is a function of food supply, and a. The problem for Quinn is the chaos caused by a scarcity of food during a time of overpopulation, but, rather, the chaos of overpopulation itself. So, in some ways, Quinn’s „Food Race“ is in fact the opposite of the Malthusian problem, which Quinn characterizes as „How are we going to FEED all these people?“ in contrast to the Quinnian problem: „How are we going to stop PRODUCING all these people?“ [1]


The idea that the human population is tied to food is contentious, however. Many biologists disagree with Quinn’s assessment. While food supply certainly imposes an upper bound on population growth, they point out that culture, living standards, human intelligence, and free will can be imposed lower, secondary limits to population growth. Critics also point out that the most significant population growth is in the Third World, where regional food production is lowest. Meanwhile, the first world , where food is most plentiful, is undergoing a decline in birth rates. Quinn has suggested these results from international food distribution and the claim of the First World Fuel Growth Population in the Third. United Nations projections that world populationwill be off sometime in the near future also contradict Quinn’s statements. In November 1998, Daniel Quinn made a video exploring these topics with Dr. Alan Thornhill of the Society for Conservation Biology, entitled, Food Production And Population Growth . Russell Hopfenberg David Pimentel entitled „Human Population Numbers as a Function of Food Supply“ and another, „Human Carrying Capacity is Determined by Food Availability“. [2] Hopfenberg has also made a narrated slide show entitled „World Food and Human Population Growth“. Jason Godesky wrote an article in 2005, entitled „The Opposite of Malthus“, which attempts to ground Quinn ‚[3]

See also

  • New tribalists
  • Human overpopulation
  • malthusianism


  1. Jump up^ „Q and A # 83“ . . . Retrieved 2010-10-06 .
  2. Jump up^ „Publications“ . . Retrieved 2015-07-10 .
  3. Jump up^ Godesky, Jason (2005-04-02). „The Opposite of Malthus“ . The Anthropik Network . Retrieved 2015-07-10 .