University of Minnesota
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
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Graduate Studies in Natural Resources Science and Management

Cassidy, Emilypic cassidy

MS.; Economics, Policy, Management, and Society


Dr. Jonathan Foley


Quantifying the environmental impacts of global dietary transitions


cass0131 at
ph: 612/242-1069
Institute on the Environment
1954 Buford Ave
Suite 325 (IonE)
Saint Paul, MN 55108


Graduate Research Assistant
Global Landscapes Initiative
Institute on the Environment


Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through the Institute on the Environment's Global Landscapes Initiative

Project Abstract:

Agricultural land occupies approximately 4.9 billion hectares of the earth's surface.  The amount of land that is required to feed a person differs globally however, dependent mainly on diet. Emily Cassidy's research investigates how diets differ globally, and the land resources required to sustain these diets. 

As a majority of the world’s population is becoming more affluent, they are undergoing a "dietary transition" which means their diets shift to ones that are composed of a greater proportion of animal products, and a smaller proportion of grains and starches. Diets dense in grain-fed animal protein require more land than plant-based diets in order to supply the same quantity of calories and protein. Therefore, when we talk about future global environmental change, population growth is only a part of the picture. Value preferences such as diets play a major role in environmental change and are likely to stress future agricultural production. 


Foley, J.A. N. Ramankutty, K. A. Brauman, E. S. Cassidy, J. S. Gerber, M. Johnston, N. D. Mueller, C. O’Connell, D. K. Ray, P. C. West, C. Balzer, E. M. Bennett, S. R. Carpenter, J. Hill, C. Monfreda, S. Polasky, J. Rockström, J. Sheehan, S. Siebert, G. D. Tilman, D. P.M. Zaks (2011). Solutions for a cultivated planet. Nature, 478(7369), 337.