Humans Topped by Pigs on the Food Chain

But still above anchovies.

Dec 9, 2013
Outside Magazine

Fishy food chain   

A new study places humans smack in the middle of the global food chain, right between pigs and anchovies. We often consider ourselves top predators, yet a new study focusing on human trophic levels demonstrates quite the opposite, according to NPR. 

Humans are in fact becoming more carnivorous, but even today 80 percent of our calories come from fruits, veggies, and grains. The new study essentially ranks species based on their diet composition, favoring top predators such as polar bears, who share the top spot with orca whales. 

As humans, "we are closer to herbivore than carnivore," Sylvain Bonhommeau, lead author of the study, told Nature. That said, the difference in diet around the world ranges dramatically. Some communities in Africa get more than 95 percent of their calories from plants, whereas countries such as Sweden and Mongolia eat almost 50 percent meat and fish, according to reports from NPR.

During the past 50 years, humans are climbing the food chain due to increased meat, fish, and poultry consumption, reports Nature. Interestingly, much of the growth stems from China and India’s emerging economies, which has allowed major populations to eat meats instead of the basic grains like rice. 

"If we all increase our trophic level, we’ll start to have a bigger impact on ecosystems," says Bonhommeau.

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