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Session 5 Slides. Slides for Activity 1. Origins of Food by Region. North America : Avocados, sunflower seeds, Maize (corn). Asia : Sugar cane, rice, mangoes, yams. Europe : Apples, green beans, carrots, wheat, beets. Central America: Peppers, beans, cocoa. India : Cotton.

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Session 5 Slides

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Session 5 slides l.jpg

Session 5 Slides


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Slides for Activity 1


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Origins of Food by Region

North America: Avocados, sunflower seeds, Maize (corn)

Asia: Sugar cane, rice, mangoes, yams

Europe: Apples, green beans, carrots, wheat, beets

Central America: Peppers, beans, cocoa

India: Cotton

Africa: Coffee, Radishes, Watermelon, yams

South America: Potatoes, tomatoes, Peanuts


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Origins of food: Did you know . . .

Over 25 species of rice exist.

Over 30 species of sugar cane exist.

Yams were first cultivated in western Africa and Asia c. 8000 BCE and can grow to 2.5 meters!

Cotton has been grown in India for over 6,000 years. It was found in caves in Mexico at least 7,000 years ago.

At least 50 species of maize exist.

A cocoa tree looks like this:


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Slides for Activity 3


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The Agricultural Revolution

Domestication of plants and animals emerged on different continents from +/- 9500-3500 BCE (before “common era”).

Enabled permanent settlements, population growth, and the development of cities.

Enabled specialization of labor; bureaucracies emergence to manage growing trade

New tools and methods impacted the landscape; overgrazing and deforestation were likely problems


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Emergence of Domestication of Plants and Animals

Southern Europe 5,700 BCE. Cattle, tuna

Near east (fertile Crescent) 9,500 Sheep, goats, pigs, wild barley & emmer

North China 8,700 BCE, Rice pigs,

Southwest U.S. 4,200 BCE Sunflower seeds

Eastern U.S., 4,500 BCE: wild gourd,sunflower seed in western U.S.

South China 8,500 BCE Water caltrop, foxnut

Central Mexico c. 9,000 BCE. Squash, beans, maize

Sub-Saharan Africa 4,000 BCE. Cattle,

South Centra l Andes, 7,000 BCE: Squash, beans, quinua, manioc, potatoes, llamas, guinea pigs


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Columbian Exchange/Colonialism

Columbus’ journey set had economic, environmental and ecological changes:

  • Exchange of food between New and Old Worlds (tomatoes and potatoes from Americas to Europe; cattle from Europe to Americas)

  • Change in agriculture and grazing impacted the landscape.

  • Establishment of colonies and subjugation of indigenous people.


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Origins Of Food By Region

Over 30 species of sugar cane exist

North America: Avocados, sunflower seeds, Maize (corn)

Asia: Sugar cane, rice, mangoes, yams

Europe: Apples, green beans, carrots, wheat, beets

At least 50 species of maize exist

Central America: Peppers, beans, cocoa

Cotton has been grown in India for over 6,000 years

Cotton was found in Mexico at least 7,000 years ago

Yams were first cultivated in western Africa and Asia c. 8000 BCE and can grow to 2.5 meters!

Africa: Coffee, Radishes, Watermelon, yams

South America: Potatoes, tomatoes, Peanuts


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Cycle of debt created by colonial economic system

Indigenous people colonized; best lands taken for export crops; taxes imposed.

Colonized people pushed into export-based farming to get cash for taxes. Food production for local people pushed to marginal lands.

Debt increases; more land needed to export agriculture.

Colonizing countries control purchasing; products sell for very little.

(Lappe, 1986)


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Scientific Revolution: 15-16th century

  • Changes in how the world was viewed:

    • Global circumnavigation

    • Sun (not the earth) is the center of the universe

  • Thinkers of the era establish a ‘mechanistic’ worldview:

    • Bacon: From parts to whole; the world is a machine

    • Descartes: Separation of physical and spiritual; nature must be mastered

“Expert” knowledge valued over traditional ways of knowing


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“Eating the Leftovers of WWII”

Nitrogen is plentiful in atmosphere, but lightning or certain bacteria are needed to make it available to plants. This was a limiting factor in plant growth.

Fritz Haber developed a process to “fix” nitrogen directly from the atmosphere. Technology use for explosives in WWII.

Technology then used for agriculture. Enabled explosive growth by removing reliance on ‘naturally fixed’ nitrogen.


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The Green Revolution

1960s: High Yield Variety seeds designed to increase production on large-scale farms with high levels of fertilizers and other inputs. Goal: End hunger.

Results in dramatic increases in production in some areas, but in 2008, 800 million still hungry.

Unintended consequences: loss of biodiversity, environmental damage, debt and economic dependency.


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Cycle of debt and the Green Revolution

Governments adopt High Yield Variety seeds.

Farmers take out loans to buy seeds, fertilizers, machinery.

Debt results. Need to boost production.

A small # of buyers control purchasing; farmers sell crops for less than cost of inputs.

(Lappe, 1986)


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1970s: “Get big or get out.”

1960s: High Yield Variety seeds designed to increase production on large-scale farms with high levels of fertilizers and other inputs. Goal: End hunger.

Results in dramatic increases in production in some areas, but in 2008, 800 million still hungry.

Unintended consequences: loss of biodiversity, environmental damage, debt and economic dependency.


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“Get big or get out”: Cycle of expansion and debt

Farmers must expand production to stay competitive.

Smaller farms are driven out of business or take out more loans to increase production.

Farmers take out loans to expand production.

Increased production can reduce crop prices, reducing farmers’ profits.


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The Gene Revolution

Humans have practiced selective breeding (in multiple forms) since the beginning of agriculture. Methods traditionally bred within the same species

Current practices of genetic modification introduces genes from different species - this is a key difference from earlier practices.

1980: Supreme Court ruled “anything under the sun made by man” can be patented; human-created genetic alteration necessary for patent.


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Supporters say

GMOs are just another form of selective breeding, which has been practiced by humans for thousands of years

GMOs are needed to boost production.

GMOs can improve nutrition for the poor.

GMOs are natural and therefore safe.

Companies should be rewarded for innovation; regulation will stifle this.

Critics say

Current GMO practices cross-breed genes from different species.

The world already produces more than enough food to feed everyone; scarcity isn’t the problem.

The poor need increased access to health care and existing nutritious foods.

GMOs create new life forms and precautions needs to be taken.

Genes are the basis of life. Decision-making and oversight should occur in open, democratic forums.

GMOs: Key Arguments


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