HUMANS AND THEIR ENVIRONMENT

Food Production

Food Production


In a food chain, the further you go along the less energy there is left in the biomass to be passed on. There are two ways in which the amount lost can be reduced however.

Shortening the food chain

One way in which to improve the efficiency of food production, therefore, is to reduce the number of stages in the food chain. This is one argument for vegetarianism: you can get more energy straight from wheat than from the cow that ate the wheat.

Reducing the energy lost to the surroundings

The other method is by ensuring that the least amount of energy is lost to the surroundings. Animals and birds used for food, like pigs or chicken, are kept in very confined spaces to reduce the amount of space they have to move around. The temperature of their surroundings is also strictly controlled. This may make them more efficient in terms of food production but it raises many ethical concerns regarding the welfare of the animals.

‘Food miles’

‘Food miles’ refer to how far your food had to travel so that you can buy it in your local supermarket. When we go shopping it’s possible to buy food from all over the world. However, nowadays we’re encouraged to buy locally. This is because in order for food to travel long distances it requires fossil-fuel powered transport which is bad for the environment.

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Sustainable food production

Fish are a popular food source. However, they’re being caught faster than they can breed and reproduce and so many species, like the North Sea cod, are in decline. In fact, the North Sea cod is in danger of extinction.

In order to counteract this, measures are being taken to try and conserve fish stocks.

  • Fishing quotas mean that only a certain amount of fish can be caught by commercial fisheries. Scientists have been able to study the mating, breeding and migrating patterns of fish and using this information government bodies can set these quotas.
  • Net size also plays an important part in controlling how many fish can be caught in one trip.

Another good example of sustainable food production is the fungus Fusarium. This is a good source for producing the protein-rich food mycoprotein which is suitable for vegetarians. It’s grown on glucose syrup in aerobic conditions. The biomass is then harvested and purified.