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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.

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z unit 5 agriculture

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.

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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.

Where our food came from

“Explore the geographic origins of our food crops – where they were initially domesticated and evolved over time – and discover how important these ‘primary regions of diversity’ are to our current diets and agricultural production areas.”

Source: blog.ciat.cgiar.org

This is an incredibly rich website with great interactive maps, dynamic charts, and text with rich citations.  This is one of those resources that an entire class could use as a starting point to create 30+ distinct project.  This is definitely one of the most important and best resources that I’ve shared recently, one that I’m going to use in my class.  Where did a particular crop originally come from?  Where is it produced today?   How do these historic and current agricultural geographies change local diets and economies around the world?  All these issues can be explored with this interactive that includes, but goes beyond the Columbian Exchange

 

Tags: foodeconomicfood production, agribusiness, agriculture, APHG, unit 5 agriculture, globalizationbiogeography, ecology, diffusion.

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.

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