Digital resources to strengthen the quality and quantity of geography education in classrooms the world over.
Curated by Seth Dixon
So many articles about organic or genetically engineered foods are written with someone with a very defined position on the subject (much like abortion, gun control or other controversial topics). This article is an attempt to separate out the good the bad and the ugly regarding genetically engineered foods.
What's on family dinner tables around the globe? Photographs by Peter Menzel from the book "Hungry Planet"
This gallery of 16 families from around world together with their week food is quite a treat that shows agricultural, development and cultural patterns. Pictured above is the Ayme family from Ecuador, just one of the many family's highlighted in the book Hungry Planet. The Ayme family that typically spends $31.55 on food and commonly eat potato soup with cabbage.
|Suggested by C. Kevin Turner|
There are joys and rewards in growing some of your own crops; there's even beauty.
Although a front lawn is not ecologically the best use of urban space, there are strong cultural pressure to conform to that aesthetic ideal. When individuals choose to grow vegetables and fruit, they often face some push-back from the city or homeowners associations with a different vision on the appropriate use of space. Some have estimated though, that if we were to convert 10 percent the country's grass lawns to vegetable gardens that they could supply roughly a third of our fresh vegetables.
The interest in urban gardening and organic foods has grown as a reaction against a mechanized, commercialization agricultural industry with genetically-modified produce. Modern consumers are seek...
Modern consumers are increasingly seeking diverse options and don’t want to passively accept the most economically efficient method of food production. City-dwellers sometimes feel disconnected from the land and their food and some are trying to culturally re-establish that connection in the 21st century. So how can you engage in some urban agriculture using your food scraps? This could be a way to make an agricultural unit more hands-on with a fun project
In the Caucasus, culinary nationalism is an extension of the region's long-simmering disputes.
"There is perhaps nothing more closely bound up with one's national identity than food. Specific local dishes are often seen as the embodiment of various cultures and many nations promote their food as a celebration of national identity. Sometimes, however, a country's cuisine can also be used to highlight national rivalries."
This opening paragraph nicely shows how cultural traditions from a similar cultural hearth may have much in common. However, since these groups are neighbors, the geopolitical relationship may be strained despite the cultural commonalities.
Bolivian and Peruvian farmers sell entire crop to meet rising western demand, sparking fears of malnutrition
Quinoa was once a traditional Andean grain that few outside of South America consumed, but it has quickly become a staple among the health-conscious in developed countries in recent years. Dieticians and nutritional experts give it their seal of approval because it is a low-fat starch that is high in protein and filled with amino acids. This rapid adoption of quinoa in high-priced whole food stores has changed the economics of quinoa dramatically. Peruvian and Bolivian farmers are selling at high prices with huge global demand. Local consumers who have traditionally relied on this crop however, now have to pay triple the price to eat quinoa, causing some to question the ethics of quinoa consumption. A simple change in cultural eating habits in one part of the world can have some major impacts on the economy and agriculture of another region.
Britain's biggest supermarkets defend their practices after a report suggested that up to half of the world's food is thrown away.
The mechanization of the all stages of food production has lead to some strange practices. The geometry of a food matters for a mechanized processing and also for the aesthetics at the grocery store which leads to slightly misshaped vegetables and fruits are routinely discarded. There is waste throughout the system, from 'field to fork.'
|Suggested by Giovanni Della Peruta|
Climate change, changing diets and a growing global population has pushed food security to the top of the international agenda.
Food problems are fundamentally geographic. Understanding local economics, agriculture and development all play a critical role in contextualizing place-based shortages. This interactive media guide highlights where these issues are the most problematic.
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
The mapmakers have amassed some 80 maps for Food: An Atlas, ranging from surplus in Northeast Italy to meat production in Maryland. The goal is to spread information about various food systems so they can be adapted locally.
Social media is enhancing digital cooperation to enable some intriguing grass-roots projects such as this one.
|Suggested by Giovanni Della Peruta|
The hunger crisis in the Sahel region of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad has been deepening since the start of this year.
The Sahel is a classic transition zone--a border that is not a sharp division, but a gradual shift from one region to the next. This area has environmentally marginal lands, but is as population pressures continue, marginal lands need to sustain more people.
The terms cooks enter into search engines can provide clues as to what dishes are being cooked around the nation.
Some fascinating (if not entirely scientific) maps that show the most common searches on www.allrecipes.com and regional differences in food preferences. More importantly, it also is an interesting glimpse into the geography of language. Some similar dishes are called by more regional names (e.g.-"Stuffing" in the Northeast and West, "Dressing" in the Midwest and South). This set of maps also reinforces the concepts of regions. This is a fun way to teach some actual content and enjoy the holiday.
Roads? Religion? Accent? Food? Which factor dictates where the North ends?
This is a great intellectual expercise to help student think about regions and how we define them. The article can help also inform some of their thinking since one of the main problems for students in drawing regional boundaries is a lack of place-based knowledge.
"TED Talks 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."
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.
|Suggested by Sean Rooney|
Urban Agriculture Sprouts in Brazil’s Favelas - Organic agriculture is a growing trend in big cities around the world, including Latin America, and no...
This article nicely ties two commonly taught issues in human geography that aren't the the typical combination: 1) the growth of organic farming and 2) the spread of squatter settlements and slums in the developing world.
Harvest is a time of plenty, when the season's hard work is rewarded by bounty. Many of the rhythms of our lives are shaped by the gathering of crops, even if most of us now live in cities.
This photo essay shows people from around the world harvesting their crops and taking them to the market. Pictured above, farmers who were waiting for customers gathered alongside corn-laden trucks at the market in Lahore, Pakistan earlier this month.
Questions to Ponder: What is similar in these images? What is different? How do those similarities and differences shape the geography of a given region?
La Tomatina is a festival that is held in the Valencian town of Bunol, located inland from the Mediterranean Sea, that brings together thousands of people for one big tomato fight – purely for fun!
La Tomatina is a cultural festival in Spain that is world renowned for it's exuberance and playfulness. This gallery of 26 images shows some of the dynamism and appeal to this extraordinary event where more than 40,000 people engage in the world's largest foof fight using upwards of 100 tons of tomatoes in the yearly food fight known as 'La Tomatina.'
Notice the signs for storing backpacks and luggage that are now pastered with tomatoes on the store in the background of the image. These hastily-composed, informal signs are written in three languages (Spanish, English and Japanese). What does this tell us about the festival? Also, notice how the comments section revolves around the concepts of waste, poverty and consumption.
McDonald's plans to open the first in a series of all-vegetarian restaurants in India next year. But rest assured, in most locations around the world, meat will stay on the menu.
Many of the most successful global companies or brands use highly regional variations that are attuned to local cultural norms and customs. The McAloo Tikki burger— which uses a spicy, fried potato-based patty — is the Indian McDonald's top seller.
Questions to ponder: What are the forces that lead towards an accelaration of human connectivity around the globe? What are the postive impacts of this increased connectivity? What are some negative impacts? Are these impacts the same in all places? Explain.
|Suggested by Marc Crawford , Mankato East High School|
Water scarcity's effect on food production means radical steps will be needed to feed population expected to reach 9bn by 2050...
This article represents a good example of neo-Malthusian ideas concerning population growth and food production. The recent drought and subsequent food shortage/spike in global food prices has renewed interest in these ideas.
|Suggested by Teti Konstantinidou|
The physical effects of climate change will prove catastrophic. But the social effects -- food riots, state collapse, mass migrations, and conflicts of every sort -- could prove even more disruptiv...
This is an inflammatory article from an environmental organization that is speculative in nature (in other words, take it with a grain of salt). Yet, this type of thinking about the future and thought exercises is worthy of our investigation. What do you foresee in the future given the current conditions?
A gene from wild Indian rice plants can significantly raise the yield of common varieties in nutrient-poor soils by boosting root growth.
While many are leery of GMOs (with good reasons linked to health), it is important to recognize that there is society value to agricultural research that works on improving yields. This article would be a good "other side of the coin" resource to share when discussing GMOs.
The disaster underscores the need to diversify our crops.
AAG: The drought that has hammered much of the country has clearly illustrated the dangers that come with limited agricultural diversity, writes Macalester College geography professor William G. Moseley in this opinion piece. Federal subsidies have encouraged the growth of corn, but this crop is quite vulnerable to drought, Moseley writes. "A more diverse cropping landscape would mean viable farms, healthier diets and a steadier food system," he writes.
The lithosphere (Earth's crust) is a hard, rigid plate on top of a softer molten layer known as the asthenosphere. Sounds like an Oreo to me! As a crude analogy that lets you bring food into the classroom, this lesson on plate boundaries sound like a winner. Read this for an academic article on how to use Oreo's to teach about Earth's crust.