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I do not understand the sentence at 3:15 in this video:

Growing animal feed means more land per calorie of food is needed to produce beef than broccoli.

Sorry I wanted to write more specific question but it's hard to explain cause I also don't know what exactly I don't understand in this sentence.

But first I feel like the part marked in bold is unnecessary because it means the same as the subject of this sentence, "Growing animal feed"? I feel like this sentence should end without the part and I don't know why.

And is "to produce" omitted after than? So is it like "to produce beef than to produce broccoli."? So does this sentence mean "When compared to producing broccoli, producing beef needs(requires) more land per calorie of food", and this whole sentence is what "Growing animal feed" means?

I don't get the structure and exact meaning of this sentence. Maybe I'm having difficulty understanding the role of "to ~" here. Can anyone help me with this?

  • Hi @dbwlsld. Could you provide more context about the source of the sentence? If you found it online, could you provide a link? – Tashus Jan 10 at 18:46
  • @Tashus - It's here: youtube.com/watch?v=hwoL6hWd4l0 (3:15). Thank you. – dbwlsld Jan 11 at 10:23
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You are not the only one who finds the sentence difficult to understand. It is poorly worded, and its meaning is not completely clear. However, we can rephrase the sentence based on the context of the video where the sentence is used.

Instead of

Growing animal feed means more land per calorie of food is needed to produce beef than broccoli.

I would say

The production of 1,000 calories of beef requires more land than does the production of 1,000 calories of broccoli, because the production of beef requires the growing of animal feed, which itself requires much land.

I hope that this sentence is more clear. The context of the video provides some of this information, and the structure of the sentence gives us some hints as well. The sentence begins with "Growing animal feed means..." Whoever wrote (or spoke) the sentence clearly intended to show that "the growing of animal feed" is the cause of the situation described by the rest of the sentence.

The rest of the sentence states that "more land per calorie of food is needed to produce beef than broccoli." I believe this part of the sentence has an ellipsis that could have been worded "more land per calorie of food is needed to produce beef than is needed to produce broccoli."

If we look at only the last part of the sentence, we might wonder, how can that be true? Farms are large sprawling areas of land, but cows can live in small pens. However, the sentence already provides the answer: animal feed. The land required to grow animal feed means that much more land is used to produce beef than is used to produce broccoli.

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It's a poorly constructed sentence.

It should be read with the following omitted phrasing in mind:

Growing animal feed means more land per calorie of food is needed to produce beef than (is needed to produce) broccoli.

In some cases, omitting words isn't a problem. But in other cases, like this, it doesn't sound natural and more work is required to parse the intended meaning.

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    Agree with your succinct explanation in the first paragraph. Why does everything become a whirlpool? :) – Lambie Jan 10 at 19:12

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