1. According to your professor, what are the commonly admitted facts about modern agriculture?
monocultures - annual plantings of the same crops
synthetic chemicals - fertilizers, pesticides
What are the two main divergent interpretations of these facts?
What is the bottom line of the supporters of modern agriculture?
List three reasons as to why modern agriculture isn't sustainable according to its detractors.
2. What kind of new crop varieties are advocated by people who promote the 'sustainable
intensification of global agriculture'?
varieties that have higher yields with less input (water, soil…) and are more resistant to heat,
drought, pests and submersion.
List two other lower-tech types of research associated with this perspective.
crop rotation; mixed farming of animals/plants; soil management; curbing waste
Describe briefly Michael Pollan's compulsory composting scheme and Blake Hurst's take on it.
Michael Pollan compulsory composting scheme has two parts.
First, he advises farmers to use cover crops planted after target harvests and compost them
for soil. Blake Hurst says this is good on paper but impossible in practice because of variant
weather conditions and an increase in bugs. Even if it was done, the costs associated with it
would cause food prices to increase dramatically.
Second, he advises to start a compulsory household composting program, in which home
owners ship out their compost to farmers for free. Hurst points out that there is not enough
nitrogen in this compost to be a viable source. The carbon footprint of the massive amounts of
transportation needed to supply this is simply jokes.
3. What is the key concept of Food Policy Project's proposal? List and discuss briefly four of its key elements.
The Proposal: The People‟s Food Policy is rooted in the concept of food sovereignty. This is
an internationally-recognized approach where food is viewed as a primary foundation for
healthy lives, communities, economies and eco-systems. Key elements include:
Ensuring that food is eaten as close as possible to where it is produced (eg,:
domestic/regional purchasing policies for institutions and large food retailers,
community-supported agriculture, local farmers markets, etc.).
Supporting food providers in a widespread shift to ecological production in both urban
and rural settings (eg, organic agriculture, community-managed fisheries, indigenous
food systems, etc.), including policies for the entry of new farmers into agriculture.
Enacting a strong federal poverty elimination and prevention program, with measurable
targets and timelines, to ensure Canadians can better afford healthy food.
Creating a nationally-funded Children and Food strategy (including school meal
programs, school gardens, and food literacy programs) to ensure that all children at all
times have access to the food required for healthy lives.
Ensuring that the public, especially the most marginalized, are actively involved in
decisions that affect the food system. 4. Why does Robert Paarlberg argue that food prices on the world market tell us very little about world hunger?
only well-off people have access to the markets. The poor who are usually the hungry are not
affected by these prices changes as they never utilize the market
Why does he argue that the Green Revolution delivered better agricultural and social outcomes in Asia than in
The Green Revolution was more beneficial in Asia because all kinds of farmers were able to
utilize it to increase food production. Furthermore this increased production gave more people
work, and over all improved the social condition in this way. On the other hand in Latin
America, landowners came in, forced out the poor and sold their land to companies for profit.
The poor who were forced out ended up in slums and could not feed themselves. These are
two very contrasting outcomes of the Green Revolution.
5. What were the main goals and results achieved by plant breeders over time in terms of production and
consumption (list 3 things for each)?
production goals: shorter growing seasons; pest/disease resistance; larger size of seeds/fruit.
New structure (ex. Dwarf wheat)
consumption goals: fewer toxins; easier digestion; better nutrition; longer shelf life; enhanced
List four similarities between insect and human agriculture according to your professor.
monoculture (subsistence farmers…)
antibiotic use (pesticides)
6. According to some researchers, what evolutionary anatomical change allowed the increase in human brain
size and the acquisition of language? Why?
the weakening of the jaw muscle allowed the increase in human brain size and acquisition of
language. A large jaw muscle needs to be anchored to the skull and does not leave any room
for growth, as seen in modern-day apes
According to Richard Wrangham, what cultural factor was probably crucial for this transformation?
introduction of cooking allowed this change to take place
Why does he further argue that meat-eating alone is insufficient to explain how large our species' brains have
become over time?
Cooking allowed a much greater caloric intake in comparison to just meat eating alone, and
thus is a more legitimate explanation for how large the brain became. This is not because
there is a change in calories, but because fewer calories are needed to do the digesting
7. List 4 benefits that result from the cooking of our food.
Eating is easier, as less time is devoted to chewing.
It aids in digestion as the food is already partially digested due to the softening from cooking.
It breaks starch molecules into more digestible fragments.
It “denatures” protein molecules, so that their amino-acid chains unfold and digestive enzymes
can attack them more easily.
Reduces food related diseases.
Destroy microbes responsible for food spoilage.
Give a concise definition of horticulture.
The cultivation & management of various plants for human use (fruits, flowers, vegetables) List two historical benefits (other than food) of cultivating plants and two benefits (other than meat) for raising
plants: fibre; medication; narcotics; containers (baskets); musical instruments (wood flute)
raising livestock: milk; manure (fertilizer); plough animals; clothing (wool); transportation;
turning organic waste to good use (feed them left-overs…)
8. According to C.S. Prakash, what were the main social consequences of humanity moving beyond the
nomadic lifestyle to farming in terms of lifestyle and cultural development?
a change from the nomadic lifestyle to farming led us to become community dwellers, allowing
for the development of languages, literature, science, and technology as people didn‟t have to
focus on finding food all day
What was the number of feral plant species humans could have tried eating? How many are now grown
Early humans tried eating thousands of feral plant species but currently only around 100 crop
species are grown intensively
List three profound alterations in plant phenotypes achieved by humans that made these plants less likely to
survive in the wild on their own.
determinate growth habit
elimination of grain shattering
synchronous ripening; shorter maturity
reduction of bitterness and harmful toxins
reduced seed dispersal, sprouting and dormancy
greater productivity, including bigger seed or fruit size
even an elimination of seeds, such as in banana
9. According to your professor, what are the basic characteristics of subsistence agriculture and its 'ideal type'
in terms of crops (give 2 characteristics) and farm animals (give 2 characteristics)?
Subsistence farming is usually small scale, with many different crops and animals. It is done
primarily for family consumption and not to sell the produce
Crops: mostly cereal and tubers; diverse and grow as much as possible
Farm animals: draft animals for labour; they must be able to eat inedible waste or low grade
forge and have the ability to look for food themselves
What are the three different types of subsistence farming?
Shifting agriculture: Burn a forest, have a couple harvests, and repeat. Usually done when
there is no good soil
Pastoral Nomadism: Take animals you can control, and roam the landscape with them. Eating
them as needed and moving back and forth from the feeding grounds.
Rudimentary Sedentary Tillage: Keep animals, till land, live on what you produce. You must be
a Jack-of-all-trades; there is no focus, just survival.
10. How did your professor summarize J. H. von Thünen's 1826 model of agricultural land use on a flat plain?
Include additional information (such as types of food production and reason for the location of certain
productions) when needed.
Ring 1: Animals and products that do not travel well: some plants; milk, eggs; associated
Ring 2: Timber & Firewood: doesn‟t travel well either… heavy and hard to move but doesn‟t
Ring 3: Grain crops: more durable than other crops; and easier to move compared to wood.
Ring 4: Animals that travel well and can forage ex. Goats.
*These patterns me differ based on cultural context. 11. List and describe briefly three (3) food security strategies in traditional (or agricultural subsistence)
Diversity in crop production and landscape elements: By picking a variety of plants and
choosing a diverse set of landscapes to grow on, one can protect against natural disasters,
Catch-up crops: These crops can be grown quickly after the early/obvious failure of more
desirable ones. This can prevent starvation…
Famine foods: Foods that are not usually eaten but are used if emergencies occur. They are
consumed until proper food is available and will ensure survival.
According to your professor, what are the main factors and historical developments that paved the way to the