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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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unit 5 agriculture

Making cities sustainable with urban agriculture

To reduce the pressure on the world’s productive land and to help assure long-term food security, writes Herbert Girardet, city people are well advised to revive urban or peri-urban agriculture. While large cities will always have to import some food, local food growing is a key component of sustainable urban living.

Source: www.theecologist.org

Urban agriculture is right at the perfect intersection for human geographers who focus on both urban networks and food systems–clearly this is an important overlap that deserves a more detailed look. 

 

Tags: food, consumption, sustainability, socioeconomic, food desert, food, urban, unit 5 agriculture

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The global food waste scandal

Western countries throw out nearly half of their food, not because it’s inedible — but because it doesn’t look appealing. Tristram Stuart delves into the shocking data of wasted food, calling for a more responsible use of global resources.

Source: www.youtube.com

No one should be surprised that more developed societies are more wasteful societies.  It is not just personal wasting of food at the house and restaurants that are the problem.  Perfectly edible food is thrown out due to size (smaller than standards but perfectly normal), cosmetics (Bananas that are shaped ‘funny’) and costumer preference (discarded bread crust).  This is an intriguing perceptive on our consumptive culture, but it also is helpful in framing issues such as sustainability and human and environmental interactions in a technologically advanced societies that are often removed form the land where the food they eat originates. 

 

Tags: food, agriculture, consumption, sustainability, TED, video, unit 5 agriculture.

Factory farming practices are under scrutiny again in N.C. after disastrous hurricane floods

As fecal waste and bacteria flow from hog lagoons into the water supply, North Carolina is revisiting a contentious battle between the pork industry, health experts and environmentalists.

 

In regions where hog farm density is high, there is an overall poor sanitary quality of surface waters. The presence of mass-scale swine and poultry lots and processing plants in a sandy floodplain – a region once dotted by small tobacco farms – has long posed a difficult dilemma for a state where swine and poultry represent billions of dollars a year for the economy. [Past] hurricane’s environmental impact in North Carolina were so severe in part because of the large number of hog lagoon breaches. Following Hurricane Matthew, the department has counted 10 to 12 lagoons that were inundated, with floodwaters topping the berms and spreading diluted waste.

 

Tags: food, agriculture, agribusiness, unit 5 agriculture, agricultural environment, environment, environment modify, pollution

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race

“Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny. Hunter-gatherers practiced the most successful and longest-lasting life style in human history. In contrast, we’re still struggling with the mess into which agriculture has tumbled us, and it’s unclear whether we can solve it.”

Source: discovermagazine.com

Jared Diamond wrote this highly controversial essay back in the 80’s and it still can elicit strong reactions from anthropologists, geographers, historians, and other scholars.  This is a good reading to give students during an agricultural unit.  This can get students to question many of the assumptions about humanity that they probably never knew they had (Diamond challenged the mainstream progressivist position).

 

Questions to Ponder: What is the progressivist view?  What were the negative impacts that early agriculture had on human health?  What social problems does Diamond attribute to agriculture?  What evidence would you present to argue against Diamond’s position?

 

Tagsagriculturefolk culturestechnologyindigenous.

Stop opposing GMOs, Nobel laureates say

It’s the latest sign of a rift between the scientific establishment and anti-GMO activists.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

Environmental activists are often frustrated when climate change skeptics do not listen to the scientific consensus that the Earth’s climate has changed because of humanity’s collective actions.  On the flip side, some environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, ignore the overwhelming scientific consensus that GMOs are safe for human consumption.  Both have been highly politicized and tap into larger narratives that confirm particular world views.  Most of the opposition to GMOs is not because of the information that is out there, but the fear of the unknown that GMOs illicit.  

 

Tags: GMOs, technology, agriculture, agribusiness.

       

China’s hungry cattle feasting on alfalfa grown on Utah farm

China has long depended on the U.S. breadbasket, importing up to $26 billion in U.S. agricultural products yearly. But increasingly, Chinese investors aren’t just buying from farms abroad. They’re buying the farms.

Source: www.mcclatchydc.com

Globalization is often described as a homogenizing force, but is also pairs together odd bed fellows.  A small Utah town near the Colorado border, Jensen is now home to the largest Chinese-owned hay farm in the United States. Utah’s climate is right for growing alfalfa, and China’s growing cattle industry make this a natural global partnership.  Large container ships come to the United States from China, and return fairly empty, making the transportation price relatively affordable.  Locally back in the United States though, water resources are scarce and many see this as a depletion of local water exported to China.  Some states see this as a threat and are considering banning foreign ownership of farmland.  This article shows the merging various geographic themes: the global and local, the industrial and the agricultural, the human and the physical.         

Tags: agriculture, agribusinesstransportation, globalizationwaterChinaindustry, economic, physical, Utah.

Sustaining Seven Billion People

“With seven billion people now living on Earth, the ever growing demand is putting unprecedented pressure on global resources—especially forests, water, and food. How can Earth’s resources be managed best to support so many people? One key is tracking the sum of what is available, and perhaps nothing is better suited to that task than satellites.”

Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov

Agricultural production is one of the ways in which people modify the environment more than any other.  Global population is expected to top out at around 9 billion around 2050, so will we be able to sustainably feed all of the entire human population?  Satellite imagery can help answer these questions. 

Tagsremote sensing, geospatial, images, sustainability, agriculture, food production, environment modify, unit 5 agriculture

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