Increasing population and consumption are placing unprecedented demands on agriculture and natural resources across the planet. Today, approximately a billion people are chronically malnourished while our agricultural systems are concurrently degrading land, water, biodiversity and climate on a global scale. To meet the world’s future food security and sustainability needs, food production must grow substantially, while at the same time agriculture’s environmental footprint must shrink dramatically. This paper outlines a framework for potential solutions to this dilemma, showing that tremendous progress could be made by halting agricultural expansion (especially into tropical forests), closing ‘yield gaps’ on underperforming lands, increasing cropping efficiency (especially in terms of water and nutrient use), shifting diets and reducing waste. Together, these strategies could help us double food production while greatly reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture.