Today, we were introduced to food production. We began the class by looking at pictures from the book, Hungry Planet. The pictures showed what a typical family from a certain country would eat or drink in a week. Below, Ecuador is pictured. Ecuador is interesting because, as one can tell from the picture, there is little packaging and no meat.
And while Ecuador has little packaging and no meat, a typical United States family consumes a large amount of packaged and processed food. Also, a typical US family eats a sizeable amount of meat. The food and drink consumption of one US family for a week is pictured below.
Germany (pictured below) also goes through a lot of packaging and meat in a week.
And while the US and Germany clearly have a lot of bottled drinks, Mexico has even more because they have water issues. Mexico, as seen from the picture below, must purchase jugs of water and drink a lot of Coca-Cola because it is safer than drinking their local water.
Lastly, we looked a Chad–a country whose typical household food and drink consumption is far different from the other countries. This is because, in Chad, subsistence farming is very common. Chad makes Ecuador look much more fulfilling than it first looked.
After looking at these pictures we concluded that the demographic transition is responsible for the difference between a country like the United States and developing countries like Chad and Ecuador. More subsistence farming is performed in countries like Chad and Ecuador, and this is why they go through less packaging and meat. Meanwhile, in developed countries with a lot of urban areas, citizens give up land and instead buy food from what’s offered at their local stores/supermarkets. If you are still confused on this topic, the following article from Time magazine might be helpful: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1626795_1627112_1626671,00.html
After analyzing the Hungry Planet pictures, we discussed food systems. As seen in the picture below, the Earth is comprised of about 25% land and 75% water. Of the land that is present on the earth, 38% is used in food production–accounting for 93% of calories. And calories come from one of two types of land: crops come from croplands and meat comes from rangelands. Meanwhile, the 7% of calories that come from water come from either fisheries or aquaculture. Fisheries can be enormous; the Atlantic Ocean is an example of a fishery. It seems kind of crazy, but there is no limit to the size of a fishery.
After discussing food systems, we categorized farming. A helpful diagram is pasted below. 80% of farming is considered industrialized. And while it’s kind of an oxymoron, industrialized farming is also called conventional farming. This category has a couple of traits: a large amount of resources are used, it is considered monoculture farming, and it is very detrimental to the environment. Meanwhile, the other 20% of farming is considered traditional. Traditional farming is subsistence farming, which, as we discussed earlier, is far more prevalent in developing countries. And while industrialized/conventional farming is a monoculture technique, traditional farming is a polyculture technique.
Lastly, we began a video entitled King Corn. The main point of the video thus far is that we are what we eat. For example, the United States is becoming a largely corn-based society and the carbon (which makes up most of our body) originates from corn. So, clearly, we are quite literally what we eat. As discussed in the video, a single strand of hair is comprised largely of corn. To watch the full video, go to the following website: http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi3505429529/