The history of food is a series of revolutions in production and consumption.
These are some of them. We could probably add others. Each has been transformative, and in a good way. They’re the reason we could feed everyone in the world today...
Has allowed rapid population growth, rise of cities, writing...
See Yuval Harari’s book Sapiens for one of the best discussions of how settled agriculture changed us as a species.
Stuff coming from the New World To the Old, and vice versa. Think of it as the start of globalisation.
This image is emblematic. KFC doesn’t happen without Spaniards taking chicken to the Americas, pizza doesn’t happen without tomatoes coming back to Italy.
It’s the reason why you can have pizza anywhere in the world.
Pizza Hut in Lima http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=476940&page=17, symbol of the Columbian Exchange
Green Revolution, Saved a billion lives. Nobel Peace prize 1970.
The medal is a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal presented to Dr. Borlaug at a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Building on July 17, 2007.
We take supermarkets for granted, but they’re a relatively new thing in many parts of the world...and we know it’s a revolution because IFPRI says so
Ever since discovery of vitamins and effects on diet, strenuous efforts to ensure that people get enough, one way or another, with all manner of supplements, biofortification (iodine, goitre) specially bred varieties (orange sweet potatoes, vitamin A deficiency).
Finally, we have mastered DNA. We can identify genes with particular effects in any organism, and either splice them into another organism, or edit them, to get the plant we want. What does all this mean? It means a huge amount of food is being produced, actually enough to feed everybody.
What is PC Placements (In case anyone asks?)
But not all is well. As with all revolutions, there is a Dark Side.
Mateo Orozco Cain slays Abel, hard work of settled agriculture. Judeo-Christian bible favours humanity and agriculture, dominion over wild.
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28
Red Queen, takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place. We are condemned to a never-ending arms race.
We develop pesticides, and the pests become resistant. Same goes for GMOs, pests become resistant to them too.
Breeders also have a hard time keeping up.
Problem is, these revolutions all have THE SAME Dark Side. We have gone from too much diversity to too little, too fast. At the species level...
You’ve surely heard that 3 crops provide 75% of the worlds calories, or some such. We now know
50 crops, or 94 species, contribute to 90% of food supplies at national level.
The latest on the number of species feeding the world is summarized here http://agro.biodiver.se/2014/03/so-how-many-crops-feed-the-world-anyway/
And within species too. How much has been lost? A lot.
Again that number – 75% -- keeps cropping up, and there are all sorts of problems of measurement, but any way you lice it, and awful lot is no longer with us.
In many cases, we just don’t know.
We have even invented a name – indeed several names -- for the crops we have left behind. NUS, orphan crops.
Svalbard; alternative to IRRI genebank above.
At the other extreme, we’re actually paying farmers to grow varieties that neither they nor the market want. Extension of Payments for Ecosystem Services, this is Payments for Agrobiodiversity Conservation Services. And it works. But why do we need to do it?
What have been the drivers???? Some of theme are here...
Here’s one of the drivers.
The concept of Superfoods reinforces focus on single foods, single nutrients.
The Quinoa boom lead to all sorts of livelihood, nutrition and sustainability concerns. Many are unfounded, as it turns out, but the reason we need to pay farmers to cobnserve quinoa diversity is that the boom can’t handle 3000 different varieties. Can’t blame the farmers for growing what they get the best price for.
So, despite progress in feeding the world we still fail to feed almost half of humanity in a healthy manner.
No country is free from malnutrition. Double burden.
Can talk about Ireland in this context, high rates of obesity/overweight, off course to reduce women of reproductive age anaemia – Malnutrition, the hidden health care costs of Euro 1.4 billion annually http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/malnutrition-the-hidden-problem-that-costs-1-4-billion-1.1834222
Enough revolutions. Sometimes it’s good to be a REACTIONARY
Moving from single nutrients and superfoods, to diverse sustainable diets,
Based on food diversity as in traditional cuisines and supported by better enabling environments and policies including better culturally-appropriate, food-based dietary guidelines as in Brazil.
There is so much to say here about to mobilize more diversity in all this
We need nothing short of a revolution, a revolution in the way our food system produces, processes and moves food, and what foods we demand and consume, to a day when the world consumes a diverse, sustainable diet
No more revolutions, at least not simplistic, one-size-fits-all revolutions.
Transformative shift to more sustainable and agroecological approaches and diverse, local food systems.
Biofortification of Staple Foods
Food, diet diversity and quality
From pills to diverse diets
Cavendish Common Variety
<5 µg/100g pro-Vit A
<8500 µg/100g pro-Vit A carotenoid
South Pacific banana varieties
Source: Burlingame, FAO (2013) and Bioversity International