Author Archives: Melanie W.

Rainwater Harvesting for Food Security

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Agriculture is generally recognized as the precursor to the world’s first civilizations. The development of irrigation and other farming methods boosted food production and allowed for population expansion and permanent human settlements. Irrigated land expanded at a steady pace until the last century with the advent of modern farming techniques. Modern farming tripled acreage of irrigated land between 1950 and… Read more »

Perhaps Meat is Not All Bad

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Vegans raise many valid criticisms and open the door to nuanced conversations about ethical food production. While many vegans protest eating meat on a moral basis, others abstain because of unsustainable practices in meat production. For instance, on today’s cattle farms, waste food like meat and bonemeal are often mixed into grain feed for cattle, when simple hay and grass… Read more »

Soil as a Living System

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What if I told you that soil was not lifeless dirt, but home to an entire microbial ecosystem? Now, what if I told you these microbes were the key to improving soil quality and reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? These are just a few of the innovations that spring from systems thinking. By thinking about soil… Read more »

No More Phosphorus For Us

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Phosphate mine in Utah | Source: While most people might be familiar with nitrogen’s role in crop production, there is another essential nutrient our food system relies on that is in short supply: phosphorus. Phosphorus is vital to all life on the planet because it helps plants and other organisms transfer energy (Carolan). Like nitrogen, it is used in fertilizer… Read more »

Hungry Planet: A Comparison of Diets in Chad and the United States

In his photographic essay Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, Peter Menzel provides an intimate look at what families around the world eat. Of the many places featured, two countries stand out in particular: Chad and the United States. In Chad, refugee families subsist on rations of various grains provided by the World Food Program. Families pose by large bags… Read more »

Like a Raisin in the Sun

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Just grapes and sunshine–that’s all that Sunmaid Raisins claim go into their humble boxes of dried fruit. This declaration comes at the end of their advertisement, after insinuating that eating raisins will also make you a celebrity, just like all the fit and healthy Hollywood locals. This is called lifestyle advertising, a more recent trend in marketing. Rather than make… Read more »

Food Aid: Humanitarian or Expert Marketing?

Shortly after the turn of the century, the developing world shifted from food independent to food dependent. In his book The Real Cost of Cheap Food, Michael Carolan argues that this shift was due to both an inability to compete in the increasingly globalized agricultural market, and strategic bestowments of food aid from developed countries. From about 1960 on, developing countries began to… Read more »

Got Milk, Anyone?

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I was a child of a single father whose signature dishes included boxed mac’ and cheese with hotdogs and ramen noodle stir-fry. McDonald dinners were a regular occurrence. I carried this diet into my young adulthood. After taking a nutrition class during my first year in college, I was dismayed to find that most of what I considered food was… Read more »