Category Archives: Soil

The Cost of Cows

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To function effectively, landscape governance ought to consider the whole system, which would account for the ecological impact and food sustenance needs. There is much profit to be found in land. Cash crops offer huge profits that are motivating a change in land investment and moving large corporations into the field where small farmers once predominated. The farms then tend… 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 »

The Importance of Land and Water

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Land and water are fundamental concepts that are deeply rooted in the understanding of the political ecology of the world food system. Essentially every industry is in some way or another based on land. Politically speaking land is the most desirable asset because of the minerals and potential opportunity to generate desirable goods and services. Coupled with humanity’s need for… Read more »

A Shift In Thinking

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One thing has become clear throughout our studies in this course, the status quo is not sustainable.  If we as a global society continue on the path we are on, it will only lead to greater hardship in the future.  Populations are rising and consumption is increasing throughout the world.  At the same time necessary resources are being depleted and… Read more »

Powerful Choices

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Our environment and the natural resources within it have quickly become a topic of scarcity and political power.  One of the most valuable natural resources has developed an new competitive market across the world.  By the time we enter the year 2100, experts predict that over half the world’s population will experience water scarcity.  Like drilling for oil, the most… Read more »

Taking Water for Granted

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While doing the contemplative practice for Lesson 8, I really got thinking more about water and the demand for it around the world. I never thought much about what it would be like to not have water because I grew up with a seemingly endless amount of it. It has been unnerving to me to think about how many people… Read more »

Diversified gardens over monocropping

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Western institutes employ thousands of people, allocating financial and agricultural resources in attempts to contain the problem of hunger in developing nations, but these efforts aren’t enough. An obvious solution to hunger is… send hungry people food! But the cost of transportation, in dollars as well as environmental pollutants, creates more problems than it solves (Robbins). Instead of providing consistent aid… Read more »

Innovation vs. Rural Wisdom

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The industrial revolution brought with it numerous benefits for the modern age. Perhaps most significant is the technology that has made it possible to feed 7 billion people worldwide. The improvements in industrialized farming equipment made farming more efficient, producing higher yields while expending less energy for the farmers. However, less energy spent by people, cattle and horses to operate… Read more »

Sustainability requires thinking in circles…

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Kloven, Leah. “Library Compost.” 2016. PNG file “Ultimately sustainability requires thinking in circles” (Litfin). LCA life cycle, systems theory and cradle to cradle analysis are all ways of looking at the full picture which is absolutely essential to addressing issues and progress. Today we operate largely through a process of linear systems, this is resource extraction, use, and waste. Our… 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 »