The Dialogue Between Humans and Nature: The Origins of Agriculture from Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. In chapter 7, Diamond asks an important question. "How did certain wild plants get turned into crops?" Diamond explores the origins of domestication, dating back over 10,000 years. He explains that we did not domesticate every plant all at once, for example, humans domesticated Peas in about 8,000 B.C. but only got around to Pecans in 1846. This is mainly caused by the way domestication happens, inadvertently. Diamond makes the argument that humans did not intentionally plant and grow crops. Instead, he theorizes that the earliest crops grew out of latrines. We would sow the seeds in our bodies and they would leave with the rest of our solid waste. Diamond then goes on to explore how we have changed and shaped domesticated plants. In the chapter 10, Spacious Skies and Tilted Axes, Diamond explores how food production has been influenced across the globe and how different areas have influenced each other.
The Columbian exchange and Challenging Evolution: Food and Ecological Exchange by Fernandez-Armesto. When continents drifted apart, so did the living organisms on the different continents. When Europeans began sailing the world, they linked the continents back together. Global trade made growing and producing non-native crops possible. The spread of produce and crops meant there was an increase in available nutrition. Things like potatoes and corn were taken from North America, back to Europe. Ireland adopted the potato and made it the most produced crop in the country. "Challenging Evolution" is a term for the way humans have influenced, altered and shaped the way organisms have evolved. While this exchange was viewed as positive, there were some downsides to it. Diseases were spread to indigenous people and organisms and powerful people took advantage of the little guy by controlling the trade routes. Also, non-native plants took over ecosystems and became invasive.
Industrialization and the Disregard for Nature by Fernandez- Armesto explores how the world and specifically food production and agriculture, changed as a result of industrialization. He uses the term "Massification: A vast increase in volume combined with new patterns of concentration which defied existing structures of production and supply" to describe this change. He then goes on to describe the "Intensification" of food production, processing and supply. The chapter is named "Feed the Giants" because the main focus is addressing the changing world climate as a result of the rapid population growth and migrating to cities.
The Industrial Landscape: Excerpts from Concerned Scientists. This article was meant to bring to light the "hidden costs of industrial agriculture." It explained the pitfalls of monocultures, use of pesticides, livestock, and fossil fuels. The article also explains that our current food production system negatively affects our economy, our environment and our social climates. Small scale farming which increases biodiversity is a fading trade in America due to our obsession with factory farms and low prices. A Statistic that shocked me was that one fourth of Earth's ice-free terrestrial land is used from Livestock. The Times article at the bottom explored how higher production rate will not "feed the world" and that "peasant farming (small farming) produces 70% of the worlds food using 30% of the resources while industrial farming produces 30% of the worlds food using 70% of the resources.
An Integrated Landscape by Dan Barber: Land. Dan Barber, the world renowned chef we know and love explains the need for smaller scale, knowledge based, sustainable farming. He uses the example of a goose farm in Spain run by a man named Eduardo Sausa. Eduardo explains, in detail, the process of slaughtering the geese for their liver. The goose farm practices the ideal way of caring for the animals and interacting with the environment. Barber then explains a similar farm that produces ham and pork. By explaining how these smaller scale farm
Man and Nature Revisited by Dan Barber: Sea. In a similar way to how he described land farming, Dan Barber explains the problems with fish production by describing a place that is actually doing it right. He explains that the idea of a monoculture is applicable to fish farming as well. Barber describes Veta la Palma, a fish farm in southern Spain. The farm is an open system located at the mouth of a river. Dan Barber describes it as "a place where tow ecosystems -land and sea- meet, and where life flourishes as a result." The fish tastes like it's caught wild because it is famed wild. The air, water, birds, fish, algae, grasses, soil and sun work together to create a thriving system. The most remarkable thing is that the system cleans the water that enters it. How many farms can claim to actually improve te ecosystem around them?
Environmental Health and Climate by White: Grass, Soil, Hope. This excerpt is about soil health and carbon. Carbon is everywhere, in essentially everything we use including soil. Nowhere else on Earth is there more of a dependence or soluble carbon transfers than in our soil. Our soil acts as a "Carbon Market." White explains the importance for soil carbon is seldom talked about because it is out of sight and mind.