Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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The business of US food aid – interactive

The business of US food aid – interactive | Geography Education |
Nearly $1bn was spent last year buying wheat, sorghum and other products for the controversial US 'in-kind' food aid programmes.   Over 40 companies sold food aid last year

But big agribusinesses are not the only ones winning US food aid contracts. Over 40 companies sold nearly 1.8m tonnes, or $1bn worth, of food aid last year.

Some have developed entirely new product lines, specifically to sell as overseas food aid. Others have fought to get their products on the list of eligible commodities, which includes items such as canned pink salmon and dehydrated potato flakes.

Didion, a private, family-owned company headquartered in Wisconsin, has developed a special line of corn-based food aid products. Last year it was the government’s top supplier of corn-soy blend, a fortified food of choice for the UN’s World Food Programme.  What Crops are being donated?  To which countries?  From which companies?  The answers lie in this interactive feature.

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Cows make less milk in hot sticky weather

Cows make less milk in hot sticky weather | Geography Education |
Research news from leading universities...


Sometimes whe teach human geography as though it is not connected to physical geography.  The geographical distribution patterns of agriculture are some of the most highly correlated human activities to the physical environment.  This one, dairy productivity, changes greatly based on temperatures, humidity and latitude. 

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What farms can do for cities

What farms can do for cities | Geography Education |
The author talks about her new book, Urban Farms, the difference between a farm and a garden, and how city farmers are moving beyond the trend factor.


Too often we teach about cities and urban systems one one side of a spectrum and agricultural and rural land use on the other.  Here is some fuel for the gristmill.     

Alison Antonelli's curator insight, December 4, 2013 11:12 AM

I personally think that farms go unappreciated. If we did not have farms we would not have half or any of the food we have today. This interview puts a lot of things into perspective on how farms can help out our cities and improve the overall food industry. 

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Where Farmers Live and Which Countries Don’t Have Enough

Where Farmers Live and Which Countries Don’t Have Enough | Geography Education |
Read more from Slate’s special issue on the future of food. Which counties, states, and countries have the biggest stake in food and its future? Look to these three maps to find out.


Where do most farmers live?  Which countries feed the world?  Which states produce the highest crop value per capita?  This series of interactive maps with data at a variety of scales will allow students to explore these questions.  What to understand the spatial patterns of food production and the geographic factors behind agricultural variation?  They are ripe for the picking. 

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Learn about your Food

Learn about your Food | Geography Education |

Many consumers don't know much about the production of their food.  Is your food Genetically modified?  Organically produced?  Learn how to know.   

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Can Anything Save the Drying Southwest?

Can Anything Save the Drying Southwest? | Geography Education |
Many of the fruits and vegetables you eat come from a region that, before long could be too parched to grow anything...


The Southwest is climatically a dry region, but population pressures put an added strain on finite water resources and agricultural production typically consumes much of the world's available freshwater.  This article argues that California should follow the lead of Israel and use drip irrigation to conserve water while still producing food in a dry area. 

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NASA Earth Observatory - Vegetation Index

The NDVI (Normalized Digital Vegetation Index) is on of the primary methods for detecting healthy vegetation using satellite imagery.  This also serves as a useful way to distinguish between distinct ecological and agricultural regions and the temporal patterns of planting seasons.  


This video was found on a site titled "Explorations in agricultural research" with many great links

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Camels for Cash: India's Fleeting Camel Trade

Camels for Cash: India's Fleeting Camel Trade | Geography Education |
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What geographic factors (economic, cultural and environment) traits contribute to the that lead a long-standing and vibrant camel trade in India? Pushkar is home to the world's largest camel fair, but is undergoing serious changes.  Not surprisingly, less open spaces and modernization are changing the traditional patterns of animal husbandry and the industry is drying up.

GIS student's comment, September 18, 2012 9:58 AM
Obviously more modern areas of India have sought out technology other than camels to perform daily tasks. However, for the ares of India that have yet to completely ditch the old ways and shift to a new modernized culture, this is an incredibly important trade. The camel is a very useful tool in everyday life and can handle labor much better than humans can. So in a way the industry of camel trading is drying up due to the modernization of cultures. But there are still cultures that follow the same practices prior to a modernized lifestyle.
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Mega-Farms to Hit City Rooftops

Mega-Farms to Hit City Rooftops | Geography Education |
Plans for a rooftop farm are the largest in the world.


Brooklyn Grange Farm is Expanding to a 45K Square Foot Rooftop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This is a stunning example of urban agriculture designed to produce local food, even with limited spatial resources.  There is also a 3.5 minute video clip attached to the article. 

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Where is my Milk From?

Where is my Milk From? | Geography Education |
Find out which dairy your milk comes from!

Seth Dixon's insight:

Too often we have heard the answer "from the grocery store!"  With more thought, the farm would be the next answer, but what kind of farm?  Which farm? Where is it coming from?  All you need to arm your students to make the commodity chain more personal is the code on the carton and this link, and they are on their way to exploring the geography of industrial agriculture (more likely than not).  This site is designed to help consumer become more aware of the geography of diary production and to get to know where the products that we are putting in are body are coming from.  My milk (consumed in Cranston, RI) is from Guida's Milk and Ice Cream from New Britain, CT.  So, where does your milk come from?

Kim Vignale's comment, July 23, 2012 7:52 PM
This is a great tool to find out where your milk is coming from and it also helps you decide which brand to buy to support local farms and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation of these dairy products to your local supermarkets. I think this tool help promotes local farms which is also a great way of supporting local businesses.
Liam Michelsohn's curator insight, December 4, 2013 2:39 PM

I loved reading about this site and there idea. its so ture that too often we say "from the grochry store" when asked were this cheese or food product is from. However acutlly knowing that animal that produced the food, before it was packed and shipped out, is a very cool things that technollagy in the 21st century  is allowing us to do. Its funny when i was on my study abrod trip in mexico and we bought some goat cheese from a rancho there,, i tried to ask how he made it, but he thought i ment who made it and he walked me over and pointed to the goat that he had gotten it from. 

Miles Gibson's curator insight, March 16, 2015 12:31 AM

Unit 5 agriculture 

This article explains how the milk of the local markets and stores may not be as local as it seems. It can actually travel far ways and many miles to reach your destination and can actually be possibly expired before it gets to you in some areas.

This relates to unit 5 because it shows how the von thunen model shows the relevancy of short distance travel of milk and is negated when the milk is shipped from other areas. This overall theory is proven valid in the fact that ranching is a farther output than produce and therefore is relatable due to the fact the vegetation is conservative from a more local aspect.

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Jared Diamond: Why societies collapse

This talk (based on his controversial book, Collapse) explores the economic and environmental causes behind why a society that is overextended might collapse or recede from a golden age. Jared Diamond uses multiple historical examples such as classical Mayan civilization and Easter Island as well as modern societies such as Rwanda and Haiti, to argue that unsustainable management of the environmental resources might lead to short-term economic successes, but the environmental degradation may threaten the long-term economic viability of the economic system. This talk ties agricultural patterns, economic practices and political policies that can strengthen or weaken a society and the book looks to the past to assess the challenges of the present and future. This TED talk brings geographic concepts and spatial thinking to many of contemporary global issues.

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Genetically Modified Foods

"93% of Americans want the FDA to label genetically engineered foods. Watch the new video from Food, Inc. Filmmaker Robert Kenner to hear why we have the right to know what's in our food."


Clearly this video has a political agenda, but this is a pertinent video to show in an Agriculture unit.  Many countries around the world require the labeling of genetically modified food products, while the United States (currently) does not. 


For more on the organization that sponsored this video see:


For a Health blog about how this impacts nutrition, see:


For more on political action currently underway in the United States, see:

Adrian Bahan (MNPS)'s curator insight, March 7, 2013 8:21 PM

Why does the United States not have laws on the books that force companies to list GMO products on labels?

Liam Michelsohn's curator insight, December 4, 2013 2:51 PM

When looking at the issue of GMO there is one things that clear... people want to know what food is Genneictly Modified. While most poeple dont read every lable of every food product, it is different when decided how many claories something has versus knowing weather its been genneitcly enginegnered or not. I also think anouther factor why the US hasnt enforced the labeling of GMO is beacuse many companies may be forced out of business and could have a efffects on encomy.

Justin McCullough's curator insight, December 12, 2013 12:43 PM

Looking at the issue of GMOs, I think it is important to label the foods that we are consuming. As it is stated over and over in the video, we do have a right to know. If cigarettes are labelled to be dangerous and hazardous to your health, shouldn't we do the same thing with our foods that we eat on a daily basis? I feel that the map that was given in this video was very helpful and exposing. 

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A Nation Of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up

Americans eat more meat than almost anyone else in the world, but habits are starting to change. This may be in part because of health and environmental concerns. We explore some of the meat trends and changes in graphs and charts.


Often we hear about the dietary impact of meat consumption at the personal scale, but what are the environmental impacts of heavy meat consumption on a global scale?  Even more telling than the podcast are the charts and infographics that are connected to this article.  Not all meats have the same environmental impact (beef is much less environmentally efficient than chicken, pork or turkey).   As globalization has spread, American cultural preferences have changed worldwide taste preferences.  As the global population rises, the impact of meat consumption is now a major environmental concern. 

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Grocery Store Wars

Not long ago in a supermarket not so far away. Help fight the dark side of the farm. Rate the film, favorite the film, comment the film and subscribe to our ...


This is horribly cheesy and from an incredibly biased perspective, but it does embody how many see the organic movement (and is quite entertaining for old Star Wars buffs like me). 

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Technology and Biological Changes

Technology and Biological Changes | Geography Education |
A pilot study discovered that levels of BPA in pregnant Mennonite women were four times lower than the national median.


This is an interesting article that shows that the technological advancements and the way we choose to live has tangible, measureable effects on our biochemistry. 

Roland's comment, July 2, 2012 11:04 AM
Everyone is already aware that organic food is better for you. There is an article I read some time ago, on a man whos name unfortunatley escapes me at the moment. In his late 50's and in fantastic shape, he only eats organic, yet goes many steps further; He eliminated all plastics from his life opting to only drink filtered water from glass containers. His entire home has a water filtration system built into it to remove exposure to toxins that you bathe in, and refuses to wear anything but natural clothing. He claims that his body is all the proof you need to know that his methods work. I'm sure any step to removing toxins in your life is one forward.
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Produce Calendars: Understanding Agriculture

Produce Calendars: Understanding Agriculture | Geography Education |

These three charts (Fruit, Vegetable and Herbs) are an excellent reasource for teaching about agriculture and food systems.  Many cultural festivals and  traditions revolve around the seasonal availability of crops and many modern eating trends often call for a return eating foods within their season.    

Justin McCullough's curator insight, December 12, 2013 1:15 PM

I feel that when you do consume foods within their season of growth it tastes better. I like to believe that because they are in season, it is cheaper to buy them because they are in abundance but it don't think that is the case. Although there is the push to try to eat the foods within their seasons, it is probably not likely to happen since we live in a global economy, that urges food to be made regardless of what season they are best grown in. 

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Our Dwindling Food Variety

Our Dwindling Food Variety | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

"As we've come to depend on a handful of commercial varieties of fruits and vegetables, thousands of heirloom varieties have disappeared. It's hard to know exactly how many have been lost over the past century, but a study conducted in 1983 by the Rural Advancement Foundation International gave a clue to the scope of the problem. It compared USDA listings of seed varieties sold by commercial U.S. seed houses in 1903 with those in the U.S. National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983. The survey, which included 66 crops, found that about 93 percent of the varieties had gone extinct. More up-to-date studies are needed." 


To show the other side of the issue, include this minor, yet crucial part of the article: "A 30-year-old plant pathologist named Norman Borlaug traveled to Mexico in 1944 to help fight a stem rust epidemic that had caused widespread famine. Crossing different wheat varieties from all over the world, he arrived at a rust-resistant, high-yield hybrid that helped India and Pakistan nearly double their wheat production—and saved a billion people from starvation. This so-called green revolution helped introduce modern industrialized agriculture to the developing world."

Roland Trudeau Jr.'s comment, July 23, 2012 10:44 AM
This article raises multiple questions like, what has happened to all these different strains of vegetables? Why have the ones that are still around survived? Was this a process of natural selection? It would certainly be interesting to research this and uncover the reasons.
Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, December 16, 2014 9:13 AM

This article is based on a study done by the Rural Advancement Foundation in 1983. Over the past century, it is hard to know what foods were lost and how many of each. But this study done by RAF gave us some information to solve the problem. It compared USDA listings of seed varieties sold by commercial U.S. seed houses in 1903 with those in the U.S. National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983. The survey, which included 66 crops, found that about 93 percent of the varieties had gone extinct. 93 percent of these crops have gone extinct. That is a huge chunk that could be used as resources. This tree starts off with ten crops on it. The tree included: beet, cabbage, sweet corn, lettuce, muskmelon, peas, radish, squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes. In 1903, all these numbers were up, up, up. The lowest starting with beet at 288 ranging up to the highest with lettuce at 497. However, 80 years later in 1983, numbers dropped. The highest then shifted to tomatoes at 79 and the lowest shifted to sweet corn at 12.

Alex Smiga's curator insight, February 13, 12:18 PM

From a scientific view point it almost seems like we are making ourselves into specialists in an ecological / dietary way.  Limiting our available food resources and hoping against the odds that we don't suffer the same fate as other specialist species of the past.

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The Geography of Obesity: Global Patterns

A great geography teacher worth following on twitter!  This particular tweet is a great example of the collaborative exchange of resources possible on social media. 

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The Geography of Drug Trafficking

The Geography of Drug Trafficking | Geography Education |
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Web Site... 


Afghanistan and Burma (a.k.a.-Myanmar) are the world's leading producers of the illicit narcotic of heroin.  What environmental, political, developmental and cultural factors play a role in these distribution networks?  What geographic factors contribution to the production of these drugs to be located in these particular places?  Follow the link for a map of global cocaine distribution patterns.   

Don Brown Jr's comment, July 5, 2012 10:44 PM
Favorable environmental factors such as mountainous terrain, helps isolate and conceal these regions which creates conditions that makes the production of heroin and cocaine easier. Since you can’t conquer the environment, the best alternative may be further international cooperation to hinder drug trafficking and production.
Roland Trudeau Jr.'s comment, July 23, 2012 10:54 AM
The second half of this article shows just how crucial of a part Mexico plays in the drug trade. Most of the cocaine that comes from the Andean region is pushed up through Mexico and the Carribean only 17 tons are sold in Mexico while 165 tons are distributed into the United States. The US makes up 40% of global cocaine consumption, leaving a huge opportunity open to Mexico.
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This little piggy is going to China

This little piggy is going to China | Geography Education |

This photoblog will also link you to a full article and video that explains how the American pork industry is supplying China's demand for protein as globalization forces (among others) has led the Chinese consumers to eat 10% more meat than they did just 5 years ago.  WHat impact will this have on American agriculture?  How to we explain fo the rise in meat demand in China?    

Adrian Bahan (MNPS)'s curator insight, March 7, 2013 8:28 PM

Read the linked article. How is China dealing with its increasing appitite for meat?

Paige McClatchy's curator insight, December 14, 2013 5:30 PM

Chinese farmers cannot keep with with Chinese demand from pork, so America is stepping in to fill the gap. The globalization of American pork seems like it would benefit American farmers and Chinese consumers, but the environmental cost of raising so many extra pigs on American land must be considered, as well as transportation costs to ship it to China.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 15, 2014 1:35 PM

We never focus on the goods leaving the United States and being imported to China. American pork is filling the demand in China and because globalization has made it cheap to ship exports, China is responding by eating more pork because it is affordable. This is important in keeping American exporting business afloat. There are plenty of pigs in the US to provide large numbers to foreign countries. I also find it interesting that what Americans would consider a staple of so called "Chinese food" is being exported from the US. 

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Agriculture is Everywhere

Farmers Fight is a student-led initiative to reconnect American society to the world of agriculture. Beginning with university students, Farmers Fight encour...


This video makes several important points about agricultural production within our modernized world, things that often go unnoticed and taken for granted.  Food for thought. 

Lauren Sellers's curator insight, February 27, 2014 11:58 AM

The video brings attention to the complex process that brings food, and sheets, into our lives. Agriculture is often overlooked and undesirable. The video gives a young face to agriculture.


Payton Sidney Dinwiddie 's curator insight, October 25, 2014 6:27 PM

I like this article because it shows that most of the things we do is related to agriculture there are so many things we take for granted  and things that people dont recongnize have to deal with agriculture its almost surprising after watching this I believe that people who do agriculture need more respect

Bella The Non-Vampire's curator insight, December 1, 2014 5:11 AM

Agriculture involves everyone. People today dont think about where their food comes from. They don't think about how their food is made. Which is all agriculture.  Now agriculture has faded where no one remembers it still exists. Agriculture is something we include in our daizly lives. The big process of food. 


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Food Machine

Food Machine | Geography Education |

UPDATE: The PBS episode "Food Machine" premiered on April 11th, 2012 on the series "America Revealed."  Now the episode is available online. 


"Over the past century, an American industrial revolution has given rise to the biggest, most productive food machine the world has ever known.  In this episode, host Yul Kwon explores how this machine feeds nearly 300 million Americans every day. He discovers engineering marvels we’ve created by putting nature to work and takes a look at the costs of our insatiable appetite on our health and environment.  For the first time in human history, less than 2% of the population can feed the other 98%." 

Adrian Bahan (MNPS)'s curator insight, March 7, 2013 8:46 PM

This is a great video covering our industrial agricultural complex

Matthew DiLuglio's curator insight, November 27, 2013 5:13 PM

The Industrial Revolution really changed things, but it is hardly an improvement, because so many people are without the benefits of the rich percentage.  People's roles are becoming solid components that are entirely replacable and part of the machine rather than becoming creative- and by creative, I don't just mean artsy.  I think that the Research and Development part of any machine entity is the part that allows it to adapt and modify in order to change for the better and the greater good.  I look at humans as an alien species inhabiting a planet, and I could make the analogy to a college fraternity.   The planet is a mess, people try to make a buck off each other at every given opportunity, and I particularly dislike that the rich people band together like frat brothers, instead of giving less-priveledged persons the opportunity to attain equal status.  I don't think like everyone else, but I do make efforts to partake in realistic activism to cause change for the betterment of all beings- human or not.  I do believe in predestination, and that everything around us is a material and spiritual echo from the dawn of creation, but I also believe that the flaws present today will disappear tomorrow through courses of events where chosen people will alter the formation of the future, for the benefit of all beings.  Right now, with people undertipping pizza delivery men, and not donating the optional dollar at stop and shop, it is the flawed 'today' phase of the timeline, but the Industrial Revolution has made it easier for society to embrace component roles, however replacable or expendable, and that in the end will achieve greater contentment and universal success.

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Guns, Germs & Steel

Guns, Germs & Steel | Geography Education |

This video (like the book with the same title) explores the course of human history to find the geographic factors that can help to explain the global inequalities between societies. Jared Diamond’s answer lies in the military strength (guns), superior pathogens (germs) and industrial production (steel) that agricultural societies were able to develop as the critical advantages over hunter/gatherer societies. The raw materials at the disposal of the societies inhabiting particular environments partially explain the economic possibilities before them. Diamond hypothesizes that the orientations of the continents play a critical role in the relative advantages among agricultural societies (East-West orientations allow for greater diffusion of agricultural technologies than North-South orientations since the growing seasons and ecology are more compatible), giving Eurasia an advantage over Africa and the Americas. The Fertile Crescent had native plant and animal species ideal for domestication, which then diffused to Europe. Societies that have more developed animal husbandry develop a resistance to more powerful germs. Consequently, when two societies come in contact those with the best resistance to the worse diseases are more successful. Similarly, industrial production depends on an agricultural surplus since specialization requires that some workers not needing to produce their own food to work on technological innovations. Societies that had agricultural advantages were able to invest in technologies (primarily steel) that would enhance their advantages over other societies, as seen during colonization. Societies that had the best environments had access to large plant eating mammals suitable for domestication and the most productive grains would be poised to produce more dangerous guns, germs and steel—the key resources for economic dominion resulting in global inequalities.

Diamond’s critics argue that the ‘geography hypothesis’ is environmental determinism that does not properly value human choices into the equation. Still, the core of this book is the search for connections between the themes of Geography with a spatial framework and the video is available via Netflix, public libraries and many other outlets.

Emily Bian's curator insight, October 3, 2014 5:16 PM

I found this just browsing the suggestions, and I was like "Whoa! We learned this in class!" So I thought that it was really neat. 

Diamond's theory is an example of environmental determinism, because he claimed that the environment and where people lived affected the people, and that's why not everybody is equal. 

I personally agree with his theory, because it makes a lot of sense when I watched the movie/episodes.

             I believe in enviromental determinism but not to the extreme level, for example if someone is from a hot place they are lazy. I believe that people have choices and can pave their own way but the enviroment can limit them. This would for sure help future aphug students because it introduces human geography in the world history context. 


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Common Cassava: An industrial crop to alleviate poverty

Common Cassava: An industrial crop to alleviate poverty | Geography Education |

Cassava, “manihot esculenta” is one of the most “disgraced” crops in Africa, of which Ghana is no exception.  Cassava is a woody shrub grown in tropical and subtropical regions. The shrub produces a starchy, edible root that is a major source of carbohydrates for humans in many parts of the world.  This crop plays a major role in the economic fortunes and nutritional health of millions in the developing world.   

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Brett Sinica's curator insight, November 10, 2013 5:24 PM

When I was younger I would sometimes go grocery shopping with my mother and she would always buy these strange looking "pieces of wood".  I always wondered why she would ever waste money on something that looked so inedible!  Come to find out it was cassava, or as she called it "yuca".  It is a popular part of her cuisine since she, along with the rest of her side of the family is from Puerto Rico.  Though this food is not so appealing on the outside, it tastes delicious and is a very versatile ingredient in cuisines around the world.  To be labeled a "poor man's food" is strange considering when this is brought to the dinner table, everyone dives in to make sure they get a piece or two.  Poor man's food, rich man's food, either way cassava is a staple in the economy and can play a key role in diets around the region and world.

Miles Gibson's curator insight, March 17, 2015 12:06 AM

Unit 5 agriculture 

This article explains how the cassava bean has been super mass produced to provide for the starving in west and central Africa. This crop has been neglected for some time now and has been recently and a discovered carbohydrate producer for the people of Ghana and is a supporting factor of the alleviation of hunger.

This article relates to unit 5 because it shows how the world of the industrialized world has evolved food into mass production to be made to alleviate all forms of hunger within the world. This is an effect of the second agricultural revolution and is now in effect and dominates the monoagricultural society of ghana.