Food, Population, Agriculture, and the Environment
Food, Population, Agriculture, and the EnvironmentIntroduction
Living organisms rely on food obtained from their environment in order to continue to live. The food helps in enhancing the immunity of their bodies it is broken down during metabolism to give energy as well as release nutrients. For animals, the energy and the amino acids obtained from food help in muscle activity as well as formation and replacement of new and worn out muscles respectively. Living organisms cannot live forever as over a period of time they age and die hence they need to reproduce in order to ensure their species continues to exist. The process of reproduction requires energy obtained from food in order to take place. Fertilization is an important stage of reproduction which takes place efficiently when there is sufficient energy within the body of a living organism. Since all living organisms need to feed in order to continue to live it would be right to say that without food survival is almost impossible.
As reproduction continues due to the availability of food, the population of living organisms within the area that has adequate food supply continues to grow. Adequate food supply reinforces the fertility of living organisms ensuring that they are able to reproduce faster as compared to when the supply was inadequate. Once the population has grown, the abundance of the food supply helps to sustain the current population. With an increase in population, competition for food begins as species struggle to survive whereby only those that are better adapted to the environment are able to survive. Population increase can eventually result into scarcity of food supply hence part of the population dies when it cannot find food. Competition for food and its scarcity leads to the reduction of the population size. The concept of survival for the fittest explains why some species of the living organism have become extinct since they were not able to handle the changes in their environment. With competition and reduction in food supply, humans needed to devise ways of supplementing their diet or keeping a steady supply of food. Therefore, humans began cultivating crops and rearing animals primarily for food among other reasons such as (plant and animal products used for housing, security and transport). Over a period of time mankind has developed the science of cultivation and farming with the aim of improving the practice of agriculture. Both large-scale and small-scale farming are meant to provide food in one way or another even when practiced for commercial purposes. Agriculture as a science and art has been under serious study by academic researchers ever since the agrarian revolution in the 18th century when people transitioned to productiveness after advancing from the Paleolithic diet. The main aim of the study of agriculture is to increase productivity to higher levels than witnessed before. Biotechnology has become a key subject for developing agriculture in the contemporary time as high yielding crops and animals are developed through scientific intervention (Qaim, 2016).
Food and Agriculture
The main reason why people involve in the rearing of animals as well as cultivation of crops is to produce food (Qaim, 2016). In countries where agriculture is the main economic activity, it is considered as the back born of their economies. For instance, most third world countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America rely on agriculture as the main source of revenue and targeting to build their economies from agricultural activities. Therefore, modern food production as an economic activity creates a need for advanced agriculture which includes technological developments in areas such as husbandry, horticulture, agronomy and agribusiness. It is expected that as people take part in agricultural activities backed with scientific studies, they will be able to get high from the crops they cultivate or the animals they rear. It should be noted that food is closely associated with agriculture but the latter is quite broad even though the primary reason for practicing it is to produce food.
Impact of Biotechnology
There have been various scientific studies in the field of agriculture which have been geared towards increasing food production as well as agribusiness as a whole. Today it not uncommon for people to find genetically modified plant products in grocery shops. In fact most scientists argue that biotechnology has brought about more merits as compared to demerits. It is thought that the current problem of food security as a result of population growth could be resolved through biotechnology (Qaim, 2016). Both plant and animal biotechnology have become very popular these days as they are associated with quality and quantity improved products. Farmers have been able to get access to hybrid crops and animals which give a greater amount of yields as compared to what was produced by indigenous species. With the current rate of population growth it can be certainly concluded that food production has to increase by more than 50%. According to Brookes (2008), the first evidence of genetically engineered plants can be traced back to 1980 when the first stable transgenic plant was developed. By 1995, transgenic plants were already available for commercial purposes and plant biotechnology became the key to revolutionizing agriculture. Brookes stated that more than half of the food supply for today’s world comes from genetically engineered subjects. Arable land reaching up to a billion and more has been successfully converted in order to use for cultivating transgenic plants. The United States alone makes use of more than 50 trillion genetically engineered plans. It has been found that the modified cotton is much better than the traditional species because it is resistant to insects and can also resist herbicides. With the continued success of the venture, the rest of the world has caught up quickly, thus biotechnology has been increasingly adopted the world over to transform agriculture. Transforming agriculture has become a serious concern for most countries since they rely on it as the main economic activity and it the primary source of food. Brookes (2008) stated that the reason why farmers have resorted to genetically modified crops is because of the impact it has on their overall farm income. Such crops take a shorter period of time to mature hence ensuring that the farmers get farm produce as soon as possible. Biotech crops have been found to be more productive as they ensure efficiency gains. As mentioned before, such plants have better resistance against plant diseases, insects as well as herbicides. The ability to showcase resistance as well as increased productivity ensures that when the crops are harvested they would result in high yields (Qaim, 2016). When the yields are high farmers are motivated to continue practicing as well as learning new methods that scientific agriculturalists come up with. Another advantage of biotech crops is that when farmers are growing food crops, the high yields reinforce the availability of food hence resolving food insecurity or preventing food crisis. It is also important to note that with biotech crops the cost of production is significantly reduced as the expenditure on protection is significantly small.
Effects on the Environment
Ancient agriculture is usually applauded for being mindful about environmental pollution as only organic materials were used in crop cultivation and animal rearing. Animals would be fed grass and crops planted on the farm while the wastes products of both crops and animals were used to make manure. It was unusual for manure to have a negative impact on the soil it was applied to since its structure closely matched that of the farm. In fact, apart from releasing nutrients into the soil for use by the plants it also reinforced soil texture and components since it has humus. However, large-scale agriculture made it necessary for farmers to use artificial fertilizers manufactured in industries as well as other chemicals such as aerosols and pesticides which are very harmful to the environment (Qaim, 2016). The industrial revolution in the 18th century led to the expansion of the agricultural sector by bringing along technological changes such as the use of fertilizers instead of manure as well as the development of chemicals to be used in agriculture. Non-biotech crops usually require a greater amount of pesticides as compared to those which have been genetically modified (Brookes, 2008). However, when comparing the differences between the impacts of the two crop systems it would be advisable to take into account the various interventions used in order to deal with the problem. The pest control schemes adopted for biotech crops are likely to be ineffective for non-biotech crops hence the comparison on the quantity of pesticides used is not justifiable. Nonetheless, it has already been mentioned that genetically engineered crops display higher resistance against pest and diseases as compared to those which are not. It implies that chances of using pesticides are more when the plants are not modified. In cases where pest control schemes involve the use of pesticides then non-biotech crops are likely to have a greater negative impact on the environment as compared to biotech crops. According to Brookes (2008), Biotech crops are responsible for the reduction environmental pollution resulting from agricultural practices. Newer modified crops are better equipped to resist insect hence do not require large quantities of insecticides and pests. The crops grown by conventional methods are challenged by crop diseases, pests, herbs, and insects hence they require invention through the use of herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides which might end up polluting the environment. A comparison done by Brookes indicated that genetically modified soybeans indicated a 50% reduction in the amount of pesticides used when compared to soybeans planted by conventional means. It shows that biotech cultivation is more efficient for conserving the environment as compared to conventional agriculture. The volume of herbicides used in conventional agriculture is quite large hence it has a significant impact on the environment that requires interventions to protect against pollution. The dynamics in the production systems also have varying benefits on the environment since greenhouse effect can also be reduced by both types of farming. Pesticide control programs usually try to highlight the way in which environmental pollution can be avoided or reduced. Brookes (2008) stated that some of the genetically modified crops end up having a positive impact on the environment. Genetically modified insect resistant cotton has been found to exhibit environmental gains as it requires the least amount of chemicals. Therefore, this kind of cotton reduces environmental impact by a large margin as compared to other types of crops. Another sector that has exhibited reduced environmental impact is the canola and maize sectors due to minimized use of pesticides as well as the adoption of environmental friendly herbicides. In general, when environmental friendly herbicides are used for farming (whether conventional or biotech) they are shown to have a reduced impact on the conditions of the environment. Biotech crops are effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as they are capable of reducing the amount of fuel used, requires minimal use of insecticides and herbicides, as well as less energy for soil cultivation (Qaim, 2016). This implies that very minimal amounts of carbon dioxide would be released when agricultural processes are being carried out. Reduction in the use of herbicides and sprays means that fewer chlorofluorocarbon particles would be released into the atmosphere hence reducing environment impact. Adoption of new technology means that new farming techniques are implemented, thus in case of using tractors the least amount of fuel would be used. Greenhouse emissions are also reduced through systems meant to reduce tillage whereby land is not increasingly plowed, thus residual carbon from crop waste is released and kept in the soil.
Cuisine without borders
There has been a huge influence from the Persian foods globally. The kind of dishes in this region have been influenced by different cultures. The Persian rulers who invaded the bordering nations borrowed a lot of culture from a mix of cultures of the people they ruled. For instance, the regions covered by Kurdistan, Iran and the Caucasus nations are occupied by different individuals with a mix of cultures. None of this people can claim to be pure in their cultural subscriptions. This blend of cultures has had a significant impact on the kind of foods and dishes in the region. “There is no specific type of menu that one can fully attach its origin to a particular country since the dishes a blend and mix of different cultures. It does not depict the source of the dish to be from the people living in the respective nations” (Duguid 10). There are so many dishes that give an indication of a mix of cooking styles originating from different cultures. Examples of such elements of cultural intermix in the culinary culture include tart fruits used to flavor savory dishes, walnuts, and pomegranates. For any liquor the people in the region use grapes. The people use sunflower oil in their cooking apart from Iran where the cooks include the use Olive oil. The main meal of the people is rice and even the use of bread as part of the meal accompanied by yogurt as soup. Kashk is a sauce that has been fermented and features prominently in the dishes. The Persian people are nomadic, and meat is part of their meal and is commonly presented when grilled on skewers. The culture of grilled meat is typical of ancient Central Asian nomadic people who had conquered the Persian region. The people from the region are unified by the culinary culture as depicted by the traditional menu composing the dishes. In every meal, we observe how seasoning and flavoring is a common aspect in the preparation of food. Bread is also part of every meal, the use of sunflower oil, rice is a grain used at least twice in the meal time and not forgetting the dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. Fresh herbs, golden saffron threads, ripe red Pomegranates make part of every single meal. Ash, a soup stew, date-nut halvah and pudding made of rose water are appetizing components in all meals. I cannot forget to name the barbari, grilled kebabs, and pilafs, bread which form daily fare. If I were to choose a better place to experience a whole delicious menu of a wider world. Seeking Saffron
Saffron production was an activity that took place in the Persian region, but worth noting is that some areas realized early harvest than others. This is evident as Naomi tours around the area looking for the precious plant. Naomi and her friend were ambitious to see the plant for they move around until they come across the plant. “Yes, off course I have just picked mine, but when you get near the red house on the other side, you will be able to locate flowers around the place” (Duguid 25). The plant though precious was not typical in every homestead. Hamid who was a resident in this region had not placed his eyed on the valuable plant. As they move around the region looking for the plant, their thoughts were to find vast tracts of land full of the plant, but this was not the case. The quest to see the plant came to rest when they come across the scattered plants bearing purple petals. The reason for such difficult to find the plant was due to the exceptional weather conditions needed for the plant’s survival as long as the length of time taken by the plant to mature. An imagination that, the plant could be located that easily anywhere around the region was just but a mere myth, and it can only take the efforts of an individual to prove this. The Persian people attach a lot of adoration for the plant since it makes part of their culinary culture since it is used to offer flavor to dishes like rice. Due to the high value attached to the plant, the dishes flavored using saffron possess the same degree of preciousness. The plant has some attachment to the deities for it was used during the animist time Zoroastrian worship. The aspect of involving god of the sun in their use was a clear indication of the high value and respect attached to such plant. This might have explained its expensive nature also. To prepare saffron for the best aroma and flavor, there is need to follow the best procedures possible. This happens through taking the initial steps of soaking it in Luke warm water with a ratio combination of saffron and water being ¼ teaspoonful and ¼ cup of hot water respectively. Allow 10 minutes after the mix in a covered jar to facilitate a deep vibrant red-orange color. The longer the mix stays, the more it loses aroma. The point is to get the best out of the whole experience; the saffron plant has to be grown in the right weather conditions to the last point of coming up with the saffron mix.
The mix containing some level of spices and a little garlic and it makes a crucial part of Caucuses and Persia dishes. The sauce works best when use to accompany grilled chicken and chopped vegetable which have been cooked. The longer it takes in the shelves, the better since it develops an intense form of flavor. The well-defined and smooth paste is done through grinding garlic and walnuts and then mixing the dough with, fenugreek, flower petals, coriander, and cayenne. To facilitate emulsification, two spoonsful of saffron a warm water. Additional water is used to liquefy the sauce to desired levels. There is a need for adding salt and vinegar to facilitate seasoning.
Svaneti is found in Georgia and is a region that comprises of high mountains. It is highly characterized by snow which covers the mountainous space for six months annually. The people from this area are distinct from the rest due to the uniqueness of their cousins which are well versed with flavors. The spices range from values garlic, Venetian salt, and pepper which are combined to provide an aromatic powder. The powder has an extensive use in sprinkling in fried potatoes, vegetables either raw or dried. For their preparation, you need to soak the garlic for ten minutes in cold water. Then peel and smash with a pestle. The ingredients need to be processed to powder form apart from the garlic. Mix the powder with the garlic and process together until they fully blend. After which your herb is ready and should be kept away from direct heat and be well labeled.
The history and culture of people living in Persian region
The people in the area have become to be known as Arabic, and they have adopted Arabic Alphabet. The people here have been keen to preserve the Persian language through the poetical works. There are different languages which exist here, and they include: Aramaic: This is a common language for Assyrian people in Syria. Iran, Turkey as well as the diaspora. Assyrian churches also use Aramaic to carry out rituals. The language uses the aspect of Pahlavi and Hebrew alphabets. Arab Nomads: There exists a group of five tribes who are nomads. They are Inalu, Nafar, Arab, Basseri, and Baharu. Armenia, Armenian: The Armenia lied between Syria and Turkey and used to exist before the coming of civilization which saw the Armenia kingdom take charge. The Armenian kingdom covered parts of the modern-day Syria, Turkey, and Iran. Russians invaded this kingdom during the era of Pompey. The kingdom was the first to adopt Christianity.
Baharat: The term has relevance in the Iraqi Kurdistan, and it is used to imply “spice blend.” There were some dishes which completed meat meals: cassia(Zeera), cloves (me aka), Cassia(into), turmeric(curcuma), black paper as well as Kurdistan loaves of bread such as nigella and fenugreek.
Different dishes that involved use of legumes
Kidney beans: They come in various colors ranging from pale pink and dark wine red. They are cooked fir about two hours, and oil is a crucial component during their cooking since they have a mealy texture. Mung Beans: They are sourced from Vigna radiata plant, and they adopt a round shape, and they are green from the outside but golden yellow from the inside. Before they are cooked, they are first soaked in water. Their cooking takes one hour to cook. Lentils: The lentils referred into this book are brown in color. They comprise of flavors that are meaty and earthy. Black eyed peas: They are also known as cowpeas. Their shape is round and has a quickly identifiable black dot. Beef, Baby Beef, Beef Shank Ethical Veal: The culture of including beef in most meals is common in Armenia, Kurdistan, and Georgia as opposed to states of Iran and Azerbaijan. The meat has a particular known as bay beef due to the young age of the animals who have been slaughtered. The animals mostly range between twelve to eighteen months. The young animals are fed on grass and grain after they have been weaned in preparation for the slaughter time. In several occasions, meat from already grown animals can be used to replace the baby meat. Bell pepper, Chile pepper: Any pepper is classified here as a member of Capsicum family. The bell peppers cause a scotching effect in the mouth since they lack the capsaicin element. Peppers are green when young and unripe but turn red after they ripen. Bitter oranges: They fruit flies under the Persian dialect as Naranjo. They are used to offer orange flavor when dried as well as a souring ingredient in stews. They also are used as a dressing material in the preparation of salads.
Borage: This is an herb that comprises both medicinal value as well as culinary importance. Their aroma is notable and is used in the preparation of herbal tea. The Persian people believe in this tea as having a high deictic value as well as a calming effect. The leaves are used in naturopathic medication.
Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages
I DRINK, THEREFORE I AM
The discovery by Astronomers, that alcohol is present in other planets has led to the discovery of crucial points of how the life on earth was formed ranging from the microbiological organisms to the human organism. There has been the discovery of massive amounts of Vinyl ethanol, methanol, and ethanol that has been identified to exist in space. Of vital importance to scientist has been the Vinyl ethanol molecules which have the characteristics of double bonds which react chemically. The scientists were keen to hypothesize that, these particles through the aspect of interstellar particles of dust lead to the formation of compounds that make the life. The molecules of Vinyl Ethanol, they joined one another and with time resulted in the formation of organic compounds which are involved in nature. The discovery of this molecules, the scientists have been able to come up with an explanation of how life on earth formed. The aspect contributes greatly to the scientific explanation of how alcohol haze that comprises part of the galaxy contributed to life on earth came into being. The ancient forms of energy production on the planet had roots from billions of years ago, Microbes, fed on sugars for their survival and in the event producing carbon dioxide and ethanol as waste. The aspect offers important aspect that gives us a lead to the existence of alcoholic carbonated drinks. Strains of a single yeast that are used in the production of alcohol trace their origin from the early years. Alcohol production has been part of the world from time immemorial, and this prompted animals such as fruit-flies and elephants to be sugar loving since they were highly influenced by the environment. The ability of yeast to convert sugar to alcohol is provided by the favorable conditions that are availed by water and nutrients from ripe fruits. Animals have since time immemorial carried out the important task of pollination; they have helped make male pollens from one plant to the next female plant of the same species. This explains the interdependence of plants and animals which ensure continuity of life. A good example is a relationship between fig wasp that carries out the process of pollination in fig tree species. The process takes place in a rather interesting and surprising scenario with the male wasp fertilizing the female wasp and allowing it to fly with a set of eggs pollinates the nest fig tree. As the female wasp escapes after fertilization, it lives a small hole which enables air to get into the flowers of the fig tree. Which help on the fig tree fruition. The fruits from the fig tree are feasted by other animals such as monkeys, pigs, bats, geckos among others. Another explanation that denotes the interrelationship between animals and plants can be seen in the relationship between red pine tree and scale inspect. The scale insect lives in the back of the red pine tree, and after sucking the contents of the tree, the insect produces secretions which are rich in sugar. The honeydew produced by this insect is in turn collected by bees which in turn come up with honey; a product that is highly sorted by Turkey. The red pine is a crucial component of the honey since it gives it that distinctive element of the keenly type aroma and flavor. Depicting another example of alcoholic metabolism is the case of common fruit flies which love to deposit their eggs into places with acetaldehyde and ethanol. The idea behind the routine fly laying their eggs here is to ensure the larvae stage of its production receives sufficient amounts of food. The yeast rich in protein, sugar as well as alcohol possessed high energy content. As much we would be glad to cite the high interdependence between plants and animals within the sphere of alcohol, still there exist some friction between the same quarters. For instance, when we take the case of West Bengal where 150 elephants ate sweet mash in excess and consequently too drunk. The over indulgence of the elephant to the taking of this fruits made them too drunk and in the event killing people as well as destroying buildings. Another case is that of birds which when they overeat fermenting fruits, they get poisoned and hence their consequent death. Micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast love to dwell on the plant fruits when they are at prime, and this prompts the toxic compounds so as to defend themselves. The harmful compounds ward off insects and the micro-organisms and thus protecting itself from the threat of elimination by the organisms.
A very peculiar Yeast
As indicated above, there exist a battle between the plants and animals each trying to protect its kind and man. When we take for instance s. Cerevisiae, which is responsible for beer production. It can thrive in high-low oxygen areas. When compared to other bacterial organisms, they are the only variety that can survive in conditions with an alcohol content of five percent. The S. cerevisiae produces from glucose very high level of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).Much of the ATP is used in the production of alcoholic drinks. The amounts of ATP released to the environment is very minimal, and this makes this compound the most crucial in the production of alcohol. In a continuous process, the S. cerevisiae produces alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) which is responsible for making alcohol from glycolysis. There are two versions for ADH, that is, ADH1and ADH2. ADH1 thrives in an oxygen-free environment and is capable of turning sugar into alcohol while ADH2 acts after ADH1 clears its action in converting alcohol to the state of acetaldehyde and eventually producing ATP again. The balancing act between ADH1 and ADH2 ensures the S, cerevisiae does not lose any of its components. If no intervention is done, a further reaction will lead to the alcohol been turned to vinegar. This stage can be inhibited through the use of preservatives. More interesting is how the S. cerevisiae can exist in certain fruits skins such as grapes without any reaction and yet they contain high levels of sugar.
Man, the drinker
Statistics have indicated that man produces manty barrels for alcohol towards hos consumption. Twenty percent of the words ethanol goes to the production of alcohol. As the world’s population increases, there is more likelihood that population will exceed the alcohol production. This is to say that, there will not be sufficient alcohol production. For this reason, there is need to seek for alternative ways to produce more ethanol to be able to sustain the beer production industry.
The major reason for the development of agriculture is to sustain the current population through the adequate food supply. A steady and sufficient supply of food tends to trigger population growth which further creates demand for food. Population size and practice of advanced agriculture have various effects on the environment whereby some are positive while others are negative. For instance, population increase creates a demand for food and settlement hence leading to the clearing of forest cover so as to create settlements as well as practice agriculture. Biotechnology has introduced new crops and animals which are referred to as hybrids. Genetic engineering faces a lot of debate with opposition arising from naturalists as well as environmentalists who argue that it affects the environment as well as humans leading to cancer. However, the major plausible concern is the effect of agricultural practices (such as the use of fertilizers and aerosols) on the environment since once it is affected negatively it would not be able to support both plant and animal life effectively. Biotechnology is one area that has revolutionized agriculture and continues to bring about changes that are meant to ensure a better future. However, the question of food security remains one of the imminent problems since the rate of population growth is very fast yet food production is not increasing at the same level. The only way that food security could be resolved through the intervention of biotechnology whereby high yielding crops are favorable. Otherwise, some years to come it is going to be very difficult to feed the world as food supply would become inadequate hence the prices increasing.
Brookes, G. (2008). Plant Agriculture: The Impact of Biotechnology. In C. N. Stewart Jr, (Ed). Plant biotechnology and genetics: principles, techniques, and applications. John Wiley & Sons.
Qaim, M. (2016). Genetically modified crops and agricultural development. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Duguid, Naomi. Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan . Artisan, 2016. Print.
McGovern, Patrick. uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages. University of California Press, 2010. Print.