The changing agriculture“Unlocking the Climate Puzzle” is the title of National Geographic‘s May 1998 issue. More than a decade ago scientists, politicians and global citizens were disputing whether or not human behavior was negatively impacting our climate. Today, this issue is no longer a puzzle, but a well-documented fact. Humans are contributing to global climate change and environmental devastation on Earth.

Giving thought and arguing over whose to blame is the past. Today, scientists and concerned individuals are asking: “What can we do to stop this change?” Unfortunately, years of research proved that once change is in motion, it’s unstoppable. All we can do now is hope to minimize the negative ripple effects.

Scientists at University of College London (UCL) published their new research in the journal of Nature outlining what it would take to keep global temperature from exceeding a 2C limit. “[The] new research is first to identify which reserves must not be burned to keep global temperature rise under 2C, including over 90% of US and Australian coal and almost all Canadian tar sands.” (The Guardian)

Changing human behavior is challenging, but it is essential for our survival. To motivate change we require monitoring and guidance. Today, we’ll examine global trends on food consumption, land and energy use. This will help map where we are and where we’re going.

1. Food Consumption more and having more food available are two big trends in the USA. Comparing our diet from 1950’s to 2000’s, average meat consumption increased from 138.2 pounds annually to 195.2 pounds. There are also 19% more calories available for American consumption compared to 1983. Total fruit and vegetable consumption increased by one-fifth between 1970 and 2000. Interestingly, we’re eating more of everything, even the bad stuff. Our new love for high fat, low nutrient and fast food is wreaking havoc on our bodies; diabetes and obesity are on the rise.

2. Growing Food know that quality and nutritional value of consumed foods depends on the quality of soil. As we continue depleting nutrient rich soil with frequent high volume crop yields we run out of arable land. Figures from the World Bank demonstrate that percentage of land used for agriculture in USA declined from 2000 to 2014, dropping from 44.9 to 44.7. This figure is too broad to make any specific conclusion, but it looks like the average farm size in the USA is shrinking. Figures of agricultural imports and exports demonstrate some interesting findings. Exports in USA show that Feed grain export has declined the most, from 61,006 metric tons to 54,794 metric tons. Oilseeds more than doubled, going from 15,820 to 43,297 metric tons, experiencing the most growth of any sector.  Imports in the USA have increased in all areas but one, tobacco.

Growing consumption and declining farm lands, topped with higher agricultural imports, implies that a lot of the food in the USA has been coming from the outside world. Globalization means that our diets are getting more interconnected. In Brazil, this problem is reflected by changes in land that was once used as pasture land for livestock, but is cleared down for soybean farming.

3. Energy for growth in technology has greatly helped with efficiency in agriculture. And although energy required for food production increased from 2001 to 2009, thanks to technology, efficiency has increased as well. Despite these improvements, this innovation has negative effects. All this good food doesn’t get evenly distributed to people who need it most. And since it can’t last forever, a lot of it goes to waste. Currently, 40-50% of all produced food is wasted, and in the USA that accounts for $165 billion in annual losses. Not something to be proud of when one in six people in America struggle with hunger, and 70 billion pounds of goods are sent to rot in landfills.

Next week, I’ll provide suggestions that you can implement in your daily life to address issues in the food industry which undermine our global sustainability.

Until next time!

Earth Hour, the entire world will come together and celebrate our planet!
The Earth Hour movement, which is supported by WWF, started in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then, more than 7,000 cities around the world joined in.

This event helps us realize that our planet has no boundaries, no religions, and no separations. It is a breathing ecosystem, and we are all a part of it.

What a wonderful message to remember!

To join this movement, all you have to do is turn off your lights at 8:30PM!
I’ll be sharing pictures of this on our Facebook/Twitter accounts.
So join in and tweet with us for #EarthHour day!

Much love!

Save the plants!

plants-1Lately I have been thinking about how people are becoming more and more unaware of what nature is. We are used to living in the cities, which makes us totally disconnected from the rest of the world that surrounds us. In my opinion people become more human being “out there” than being closed in a concrete jungle, where they fight between each other for no particular reason. What we can also see is that people are much nicer in the nature. They smile to each other, want to help, respect their environment and… I realised that being “out there” in the nature and doing nothing, just living is more educational than doing tones of stuff in the city.

Being disconnected from the nature make us forget about many things that are fundamental for our life or sometimes surviving. One of these fundamental elements is food. Nowadays very few people know how to manage a garden. I would even risk to state that very few people know how to identify all the plants from which we gather our food. How does the pineapple grow, or a watermelon, or would you be able to differentia potatoes from beetroots?Actually most of food comes from plants. Of course, produce such as cheese; milk or meat par excellence comes directly or indirectly from animals. But if we start thinking what does a cow eat we again come back to plants. Sugar that is used in so many things that each one of us love so much, also is made from a plant – sugar cane or in colder places sugar beetroots are used. It means that without these plants we wouldn’t be able to eat cookies, cakes, ice cream nor drink juices.

The most mysterious and mesmerizing part of all this, is that if you don’t know the plants, you can walk the forest in search of food and never find anything to eat, even if all the nutritious food is right there in front of you. A great example of that is when in the community we walked past various plants that seemed like anything else you can find in the forest, and our native guides would tell us: This is ginger plant, this is yucca plant, this is the avocado plant, and here you have a cinnamon tree. If it weren’t for their deep knowledge in the natural world, I would have never have remembered where really does our food come from. I guess being exposed to supermarkets for all your life, really closes in your world, and disconnects you from the full food chain that all our ancestors were in tune with.

A really interesting fact about all these plants is that if you tear off a leaf from say a cinnamon tree, or a ginger root and chew it, the flavour of the actual fruit or vegetable suddenly comes alive in your mouth. I guess that could also be one way to survive in the forest, chew all the leafs that you come across to find the right one, but that seems like a very inefficient way to find food. The best process is to start re-learning all the essential skills our ancestors had, and get back in tune with the natural world. After all, without all these plants, forests, and fertile land….what would we have left to eat??

posted by Piotr Wielezynski & Hokuma Karimova