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Our Dwindling Food Variety

Our Dwindling Food Variety | Social Studies 7 Resources | Scoop.it

"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." 


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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.
Seth Dixon's curator insight, November 1, 2013 5:23 PM

"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."

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.

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Produce Calendars: Understanding Agriculture

Produce Calendars: Understanding Agriculture | Social Studies 7 Resources | Scoop.it

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.    


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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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Where Farmers Live and Which Countries Don’t Have Enough

Where Farmers Live and Which Countries Don’t Have Enough | Social Studies 7 Resources | Scoop.it
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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Cows make less milk in hot sticky weather

Cows make less milk in hot sticky weather | Social Studies 7 Resources | Scoop.it
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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