Food crises, population growth and education

There is a lecture on Radio New Zealand National about the possibility of food crises in years to come and the effects these have on countries like ours where we currently enjoy easy access to food and water. The ability to feed ourselves, this talk points out, is one of the greatest challenges we will face in years to come… The lecture is available at: 

(There is also a lecture there on water use.) It got me thinking about the curriculum we offer the children around food and water. The attitudes they develop from a young age (thinking en masse) can have a huge impact on the environment… so what are we doing and why?

The speakers point out that: “The footprint of the world’s cities in 2050 is going to be equal to the landmass of China…” and some of the largest cities are already completely reliant on ‘a river of trucks bringing food in to the city each night’ (i.e. cities don’t supply their own food!). He states that it’s really important to restart food production in cities.

Apparently, “the world is not short on nutrients – it just isn’t using them well. We trash 30-50% of our food” and we have to learn not to waste food – or, at least, to ‘unlearn wastefulness’. It also seems that food is much less expensive in ‘the West’ now – that we spend about 10-12% of our income on food (compared to a third, which is what our grandparents used to spend) – and this is why we can afford flat screen TVs and waste of food. Very interesting!!! How could we stop waste in a city like Auckland they ask? We could recapture the nutrients we currently waste (grass clippings, food waste, water etc) and use them; “we are,” he states “going to change this thing we call the city” in years to come, because we’re going to have to… We’re going to see more green cities… and the development of ‘urban agriculture’ and beekeeping in cities (because the bee, that has been a major factor underpinning the Western agricultural system, is disappearing and the reason why is not known for sure), etc….

He also suggests that we need to look at this on a larger scale… New Zealand’s government needs to start thinking about agricultural policy as defense policy and as immigration policy (because wars and emigration are pushed by food crises). We’ve got the technology and the knowledge base in our farmers to make a big difference, but we’re not sharing that knowledge, he asserts. (For example, Australian farmers are very good at dealing with drought). The world is not investing enough in agricultural science, though… so, he says… let’s double the research and development in agriculture… (which would still make it only a tenth or less of the weapons spend).

It seems to me that food education (about all aspects of foodways) is one area ECE and other schooling can involve themselves in to great effect!!!

This is something they discuss – he declares that “we need to change the attitude of the next generation to food… and we need to start young… I would like to see food woven through the curriculum” (I’m not quoting exactly, but basically….). His opinions on farmers are also really very interesting – he suggests, for example, that we pay them a social wage for the work they do in maintaining certain environmental systems…

Smart Talk: Water Crisis
This final edition of Smart Talk from the Auckland Museum, recorded in front of an audience last year, focuses on the issue of water sustainability and how we use our country’s waterways. The panel of experts from the University of Auckland include Professor John Montgomery, the Chair of Marine Science; the ecologist Dr Marjorie van Roon; and Dr Alys Longley, a lecturer in Dance Studies. Oliver Driver is in the chair. (37′45″)

From Smart Talk at the Auckland Museum on 15 Jan 2012
Download: Ogg Vorbis  MP3 | Embed
Smart Talk: Food Crisis
The renowned Australian author, journalist and science communicator Professor Julian Cribb in conversation with Finlay Macdonald about how we are to feed ourselves in the coming years and decades. (52′04″)

From Smart Talk at the Auckland Museum on 08 Jan 2012
Download: Ogg Vorbis  MP3 | Embed


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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