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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.

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agriculture

We’re creating cow islands

The parts of the United States that have higher populations of dairy cows are in the West and northern states.

 

Milk has moved away from cities between 2001 and 2011. Red areas indicate less milk in 2011 than 2001, green areas mean more and a buff color designates a neutral milk region.

Almost every region where you see a dark red area indicating a sharp decline in production has a large and growing population center nearby.

Source: hoards.com

As many of you will notice, this continues the reversal of some patterns that von Thünen observed and put in his famous agricultural model. 

 

Questions to Ponder: Why did milk used to need to be produced close to the cities?  Why is the old pattern changing now? How is this changing regions?

 

Tags: models, food production, agribusiness, agriculture.

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Robots can pick strawberries. Now what?

“The robots have arrived. And they’ll be picking crops in Florida fields soon. Robots can do things humans can’t. They can pick all through the night. They can measure weight better. They can pack boxes more efficiently. They don’t take sick days, they don’t have visa problems.

Google ‘are robots taking our jobs?’ and you get millions of theories: Robots will take over most jobs within 30 years; yes, but it’s a good thing; yes, but they will create jobs, too; chill out, they won’t take them all. Truckers, surgeons, accountants and journalists have all been theoretically replaced by prognosticators.

But harvesting specialty crops is different: Plants vary in shape and size and determining ripeness is complex — experts have said there are too many variables for robots. Until now.”

Source: www.tampabay.com

Many industries have been, and will continue to be transformed by automation and robotics.  There is a great amount of uncertainty and anxiety in the labor pools as workers see many low skill jobs are being outsourced and other jobs are being automated.  Some economic organizations are preparing resources for workers to strengthen their skills for the era of automation. 

 

Questions to Ponder: How will a machine like this transform the agricultural business? How might it impact migration, food prices, or food waste?

 

Tags: economic, laboragribusiness, industry, food production, agriculture.

Homeland of tea

“China is the world’s biggest tea producer, selling many varieties of tea leaves such as green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea and yellow tea. Different regions are famous for growing different types of tea. Hangzhou is famous for producing a type of green tea called Longjing or the Dragon Well tea. Tea tastes also vary regionally. Drinkers in Beijing tend to prefer jasmine tea while in Shanghai prefer green tea. Processing raw tea leaves for consumption is a time and labor-intensive activity and still done by hand in many areas in China. The Chinese tea industry employs around 80 million people as farmers, pickers and sales people. Tea pickers tend to be seasonal workers who migrate from all parts of the country during harvest time. In 2016, China produced 2.43 million tons of tea.”

Source: www.bostonglobe.com

Tea, the world’s most popular beverage, doesn’t just magically appear on kitchen tables–it’s production and consumption is shaped by geographic forces, cultural preferences, and regional variations.  These 21 images show the cultural, region, and environmental, economic, and agricultural context of tea.  

 

Tagsimages, foodChina, East Asia, economic, labor, food production, agriculture.

How Does it Grow? Garlic

How Does it Grow? Garlic from How Does it Grow? on Vimeo.

Telling the stories of our food from field to fork.
Episode Two: Peeling back the layers of nature’s most powerful superfood.

Source: vimeo.com

This 5-minute video is a good introduction to garlic, it’s production, environmental requirements, nutritional profile and diffusion.  Historically, garlic was far more important than I ever imagined.  The geography of food goes far beyond the kitchen and there are many more episodes in the “How Does it Grow?” series to show that.

Tags: foodeconomicfood production, agribusiness, industryvideo, agriculture.

How Does it Grow? Avocados

How Does it Grow? Avocados from How Does it Grow? on Vimeo.

Avocados have become a super trendy food, but few of us know how they’re even grown or harvested. We visit a California farm to uncover the amazing story of the avocado — and share the secrets to choosing, ripening and cutting the fruit.

Source: vimeo.com

My childhood house in the Los Angeles area had an avocado tree in the backyard; I now realize that the climatic demands of avocado production means this is a rarity in the United States, but as a kid I thought guacamole was as ubiquitous as peanut butter.  This 5-minute video is a good introduction to the avocado, it’s production, environmental requirements, nutritional profile and diffusion.  The geography of food goes far beyond the kitchen and there are more episodes in the “How Does it Grow?” series to show that. WARNING: the video does mention the Nahuatl origin of the word (‘testicle-fruit’) in the video so as you manage your own classroom…just so you know. 

Tags: foodeconomic, agribusiness, video, agriculture.

The real reason Amazon buying Whole Foods terrifies the competition

Amazon’s zero-profit strategy is a disaster for anyone who goes up against it.

Source: www.vox.com

I have more questions than definitive answers, so let’s get right to it. 

 

Questions to Ponder: How have technological and logistical shifts in various industries made this once unthinkable union workable?  How will a retailer like Amazon change the food industry on the production side of the equation? What are the advantages and disadvantages of creative destruction (eliminating old jobs by creating new ones)?  Who stands to benefit the most, and who are the most negatively impacted?    

 

Tagsindustry, economic, scale, agriculture, food production, agribusiness, food

Drought and Famine

In which John Green teaches you a little bit about drought, which is a natural weather phenomenon, and famine, which is almost always the result of human activity. Throughout human history, when food shortages strike humanity, there was food around. There was just a failure to connect those people with the food that would keep them alive. There are a lot of reasons that food distribution breaks down, and John is going to teach you about them in the context of the late-19th century famines that struck British India.

Source: www.youtube.com

Famine is exacerbated by natural factors such as drought, but those only stress the system, they rarely cause the actual starvation.  The real failure is that the political/economic systems created by governments and how they handle stains in the food production/distribution systems.  Widespread famines are very rare in democracies and are much more prevalent in authoritarian regimes.  Many of the recent examples have come from collectivation strategies that governments have implemented (currently Venezuela, but historically the Soviet Union and China).  The Choices program has some good resources about teaching current events with the famines today.

 

Tags: food, povertyhistoricalcolonialism, economic, political, governance, agriculture, crash course

 

Venezuela Is Starving

Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela can no longer feed its people, hobbled by the nationalization of farms as well as price and currency controls. The resulting hunger and malnutrition are an unfolding tragedy.

Source: www.wsj.com

Widespread famines are very rare in democracies and are much more prevalent in authoritarian regimes.  This is because food production is but a small part of a larger picture; the system of food production and distribution in Venezuela has been decimated by the nationalization of private farms.  Individual farmers can’t make a profit in the new political economy and consequently are going to stop producing for the market.  This vicious cycle is political in nature more so than in is agricultural. 

 

Tags: food, poverty, Venezuela, South America, economic, political, governance, agriculture, food production.

Long-time Iowa farm cartoonist fired after creating this cartoon

“Rick Friday has been giving farmers a voice and a laugh every Friday for two decades through his cartoons in Farm News.
Now the long-time Iowa farm cartoonist tells KCCI that he has been fired. Friday announced Sunday that his job was over after 21 years in a Facebook post that has since gone viral.”

Source: www.orrazz.com

There are some intriguing layers connected to the politics of agribusiness in this story.  First off, the political cartoon highlights a pithy truth–that while the ‘traditional’ farmer is a lucrative position, in the global economy, there are corporations that are amassing fortunes in agribusiness.  The second connection is more telling–the newspaper company felt compelled to fire the cartoonist as for voicing this perspective as the newspaper advertisers flexed their pocketbooks to change the direction of the news being reported.  

 

Tags: agriculture, food production, agribusiness, foodeconomicindustry, scale, media

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