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Environmental Science
Name: ______________________________
Food and Agriculture
Goal: The student will identify the major causes of malnutrition and compare the environmental costs of
producing different types of food.
1. Diet –
2. Yield –
Chapter 9.1: Feeding the World
Ethiopa, 1985; people were starving (lack of rain, soil degradation, war); when rain came, it washed away
millions of tons of soil into the rivers; resulted in 6,000 sq. mi. of desert
Events like this present frightening pictures of how difficult it is to feed the Earth’s growing population
Modern agricultural practices provide most of the world’s population with enough food to survive; however,
efforts by us to feed more people in this world are causing this environmental damage, making it difficult to grow
crops to feed all the people
Humans and Nutrition
• We must consume organic compounds in order to survive (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids); we also need vitamins
and minerals to help our bodies function properly
• Food is used as a source of energy and for building and maintaining our bodies; lack of enough food will result in
sickness or death; starving people die from disease that our bodies cannot fight off; malnutrition is a result of not
eating enough of the necessary nutrients
Sources of Nutrition
 A person’s diet is the type and amount of food a person eats.
 Healthy diets are ones that maintain a balance of the right amounts of nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
 Most parts of the world, people eat large amounts of foods high in carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, break); foods
produced in the greatest amounts are grains (plants whose seeds are rich in carbohydrates); aside from grains,
most people eat fruits, vegetables and small amounts of meats, nuts and other foods rich in fats and proteins.
Diets Around the World
 Worldwide, people generally consume the same major nutrients and eat the same basic kinds of foods; however
diets can vary from region to region.
 More developed countries tend to eat more food and larger proportions of proteins and fats than people in less
developed countries. ex: In US, almost half the calories consumed come from meat, fish and oil; In Japan, their
diet traditionally consists of a mix of rice, vegetables and seafood.
The Ecology of Food
 As human populations grow, farm land replaces forests and grasslands
 Feeding all the people of the world and still maintaining natural ecosystems is becoming more difficult
 Different types of agriculture present different environmental impacts and different levels of efficiency
Food Efficiency
 The measure of the quantity of food produced on a given area of land with limited inputs of energy and resources
 An ideal food crop would be one that efficiently produces a large amount of food with as little negative impact on
the environment as possible.
 More energy, water and land are used to produce food from animals than food from plants; plants are used to feed
the animals who produce food for humans; less energy is available at each level of the food chain (10% is stored
in the animals), therefore more food can be produced for humans when it is used for humans rather than for feed
for animals
One reason why diets around the world are largely based on plants (it is more efficient and more can be produced
per acre); however, meat from animals provides more nutrients per gram than most food from plants
Old and New Foods
• Researchers are investigating ancient plants and looking at new varieties of plants
• Looking for plants betters adapted to different climates and produce high yields without large amounts of
fertilizers, pesticides and fresh water
• Studying plants that have not been widely used for food in the past but may be useful
• Ex: Amaranth – sacred food of the Aztecs and Glasswort – can be grown in saline soil
Lesson Reflection:
Learn how to read food labels. Each student will select a different food label and answer questions
regarding the food label they have chosen.
1. Identify the major causes of malnutrition.
2. Compare the environmental costs of producing different types of foods.
Lesson Extension (Technology/Application/Connection to Real World):
Food Label Activity: Nutrition Label Comparison
Students will be comparing nutrition label for four types of potato products. They will determine
what happens to the raw product when it is processed in various forms.