Individual Approaches to Food Security During Climate Change – What are some of the Climate Actions we can take towards achieving Food Security? (Reading)

Required Reading: What are some of the Climate Actions we can Take Towards achieving Food Security

Estimated time: 20 Minutes

In this activity module, I have added a few more readings that may be of interest to you. We have not yet talked about food miles and the distance that food has to travel, although we do talk a lot about imported food and how those transportation GHGs contribute to global emissions. Please do not read each article in any depth…this would take hours, unless of course you wish to. I ask that you skim each article…perhaps reading just the abstract. After skimming a few of these articles I ask you a question that you may wish to answer in your guided reflections this week. That is up to you.

1) This article talks about the environmental impact of buying local. It might surprise you. Please bear in mind that this article is already a bit outdated, but it is a good read nonetheless.– Some people say that the environmental impact of food is more about diet choices than about distance food travels. Even for local food, it is better to have boxes delivered than to go and visit the farm one-self. Or should local food producers work like grocery stores, collecting stuff they produce at a central hub and then distributing from that hub to households? I suggested this in response to a recent public request for input on agriculture, about the use of electronic marketing in China. Each farm having its own website and placing orders with the farmer and going to the farm to pick it up is nice and nostalgic, but not good for the environment if that travel is more than half a dozen km round trip. I think that many people in the local food movement like the social interaction of farmers markets and of talking to their customers when they come to the farm. These are great things for community, but they come at an environmental and social justice cost. What do you think?

2) Here is another article that discusses food miles. 

3) This article discusses the social justice dimension of food miles. It states that an emphasis on food miles will harm developing countries and increase global inequality. Do you believe this. I firmly believe that it is the lens that you choose to critically analyze a problem. Which lens does the author choose to analyze food miles from? Economic, geographical, food security, food sovereignty, and many more?

4) This article offers a presentation of the relative role that transportation plays in environmental impact. I think this is a good article to read!

5) Publications in Nature looking at land use change and carbon benefit (reduced carbon production). Analysis finds that organic agriculture has in the situations analyzed a larger carbon footprint than conventional agriculture. Organic yields are lower, and to produce the same amount of food, more land needs to be farmed. That land would have stored more carbon in its soil and vegetation than when it is used for agriculture. Switching to organics will result in more habitat loss than using conventional agriculture as well, another negative impact of organic. Again, think about the lens that this author is using to analyze the topic. Do you agree with this paper?

This reading activity asks you to merely skim the above journals to get a bit of an understanding of the duality of food arguments that run the entire spectrum from industrial agriculture to small scale agriculture and the effects that all food producing regimes contribute towards climate change. In previous modules we investigate agricultural adaptation to climate change and therefore how climate change affects agriculture. The relationship food production has with the earth can be either a positive feedback loop, or a negative one. It is a complex and complicated issue that has many aspects to it. It is difficult to parse out the nuances of all arguments. This reading exercise is meant to further problematize the discussions we have had about food security and climate change, not by complicating the discussion, but by introducing as many facets of the dilemma for you to think about…in other words I have attempted to give you a lot of ‘food’ for thought. And I have merely skimmed the surface in this aspect.

This is a comment made to me by a colleague: “I like my surroundings to include agriculture. I like talking to people who work in agriculture, and people who are interested in what can be grown locally. Local food may contribute to social capital and local connections in ways that other activities do not. However, I fear that when local food movements try to frame their benefits in environmental or justice terms, they run the risk of undermining their own case. Critical analyses simply don’t back it up. One ends up with a small group of passionate believers who won’t consider critical analyses and the rest of the population who end up seeing the local food movement as just another self-interested lobby group”. Does the ‘rest of the population’ view the local food movement as ‘just another self-interested lobby group’? What do you think? This question can be answered in your reflections if you so choose.


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Food & Water Security Copyright © by Dr. Joanne Taylor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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