Ecology of Food and Culture
Most of the Geographers and the naturalists have greatly commented on the issue of natural resources, food and human relationships for a long time. This idea has been greatly supported by the religious leaders and the political leaders as well. This is so because most communities valued the balance that existed between the human beings and nature (Luoba AI, 2005). However, this has changed due to industrial modernization as the nature is controlled through education, new technologies and new ideologies that put emphasis on individualism. More so, education has greatly expanded in its context or field of agriculture, genetics, soil science and food science. These have together improved and promoted the methods of processing, increased food production, food distribution and storage (Webb P; Habtu Y, 1994).
The term ecology is defined as the scientific study of the abundance of life and the distribution as well as the interactions that occur between the organisms and their surrounding environment, where this environment consists of the physical properties described as local abiotic factors. Examples of these abiotic factors are the sunlight, climate, geology and other organisms that are in the same habitat (McCullough A; Kirks A; Wachs TD, 1990).
Our main aim in this paper is to find out how the ecology has affected the human nature and the food that this human beings need to consume. In this perception considered in the natural sciences, the globe is an interconnected system where variations in one part of the structure influence the whole lot. The sun’s liveliness and the earth’s raw materials produce a series of plant “producers,” in this case known as the herbivores, “consumers,” known as the carnivores, omnivores, bacteria, fungi, and “degraders” which are the parasites that take back the natural waste of the producers and consumers back into the scheme. Humans are basically among the omnivores where the plant producers and the animal consumers are food to each other with the micro organisms being inclusive (Lentz C, editor, 1998).
Generally the size of plants and animals is restricted by the resources obtainable to consume, as well as the capability to become accustomed to environmental stress caused by extreme weather, disease, or poisonous waste. Ecological systems are steadier, or are in equilibrium, when a great number or variety of plant and animal kind is present, rather than hardly any class in any place. Therefore, prairies are more varied and steady than most home farms or cornfields, whose single classes are extremely vulnerable to ecological stressors. Intercropping and crop alternation permit some variety, although the varieties of the plant are limited (McCullough A; Kirks A; Wachs TD, 1990).
Human systems intervention through anthropology or natural features led to cultural ecology, political ecology and human ecology, as the entire process of understanding of environmental density grew. Cultural ecologists considered human cultures as a creation of desert, temperate forest, rain forest, and mountains where people live. Each human tradition was characterized by its specific foods and practices in their daily living that were also identified with the environmental traits and restrictions of these diverse habitats (Kerr RB, 2005).
However, under the industrial modernization where specialized technology is emphasizes, cultural development was considered by how much power was harnessed from the surroundings per unit of human input for hunter-gatherers, the old small-scale farming and more sophisticated agriculture of situation societies, and then international manufacturing society. Animal efforts, the intensive use of mechanical, haulage, and fossil-fuel consumption were often considered so that scientific transformation was apparent to create enormous capacity of food and caloric force for the gradual growing population (Howard M, 1994).
Human ecologists further evaluated the ecological interrelations of humans, food making, and resulting health status in diverse habitats. Manipulative full energy run of food and fuel found in meticulous groups’ environmental systems illuminated the restrictions of the natural surroundings, and the ability of people’s physiology and behavior to adapt to a exacting environmental conditions, foods, and climate. They defined the causes of harsh droughts and food shortage in areas such as the sub-Saharan Africa (Kitabatake N; Gimbi DN; Oi Y, 2003).
Given that drought is recurring, these ecologists investigated how customary populations avoided the occurrence of famine through the use of many conventional strategies to adjust, barrier, allocate, oppose, shun, or be conventional to the available situations. Food storage methods, crop variety, and the maximum uses of irrigation are the major examples of buffering, distributing, and advancing the environmental stressors. Nonstop use of such native information was suggested. The Ecologists also began to appreciate how the restrictions of natural-resource convenience have been proscribed by local, regional, and global politics as well as the economic market services during history. The political and economic facts finished by new groups led to short-term gains, which in return affected the longer-term environmental intelligence of customary practices that had allowed people to live over time. Hence, political ecosystem became the cram of these shared factors, to improve food manufacture further.
However, it is clear that the maintenance movement came up through the maximum use of scientific claim of environmental ideas so as to sensibly plan for economic growth, thus diminishing the public’s inefficiency and thoughtless use of natural resources. Others researchers believe that conservation took place in reaction to current industrialization’s political grasp over environment and people (Miller NF; Wette Miller NF; Wetterson W, 2000). Yet, the environment has been recognized during an emotional, spiritual association of people who recognize with their usual surroundings. Academic ecosystem at first had the basis that, by appreciative environmental associations, one could improve the control of the parts of the entire process.
“Objective” science and technology was the instrument of work modernization’s objective, scheming the environment and other humans. Many public ecological actions recognized with former religious and political philosophies leaning to the attractiveness and stability in nature, whereby captivating too much from the organization sends it into lack of balance and ecological tragedy.
Conservationism has a variety of forms that as a result support diverse philosophies and plans for maintaining stability among humans and the normal environment. Essential ecology includes deep ecology, ecofeminism and social ecology (Negash A; Niehof A, 2004). It therefore suggests on the use of elimination of the recent political economic scheme to arrive at a more environmentally sound subsistence. On the other hand “surface” ecology emphasizes on the look inside the present system to direct it toward a more sustainable options. Contrasts in ecological approaches have extensively existed. Many scientific ecologists also increase imminent from theoretical knowledge and select occupation objectives that will give out the needs of humans and nature.
The early counterculture put emphasis on their interest in “health food” and food co-ops. Vertical incorporation involves possession of the whole process of food production, food processing, food shipping, and food marketing by a company or set of linked corporations. The company may take the riskier lower-profit aspects of the process to a divide small business that runs the operations and directs the farmers to convene the corporation’s order for specific traits and timing of crop or livestock manufacture. Attentiveness involves scheming the whole food types by merely a few corporations (Newman JL, 2000).
Vegetarian and natural products are often chosen to protect animals or to eat chemical-free or low on the food chain. However, some societies react powerfully against hereditarily customized food because of likely damage to other habitants in the food chain, and alongside large-scale animal-husbandry operations that increase communicable disease, such as animal foot-and-mouth disease (Kotler NG, 1992). It is also feared for alleged neurological problems in human beings. so far the health-food market is taken or handled by the corporate vitamin and addition industry; the industrialized and accumulation marketing of “crude,” “normal,” or “health” food, more sequence stores; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s general organic principles of December 2000. Early the standards ranged among local organic farming relations, where by some were so severe that industrial organic farming would be exorbitant.
The wonderful nonhuman force fuel consumptions in the more scientific contemporary societies show ecological inequity. The United States, for example, which has one-twentieth of the world’s population, uses one-third of the world’s entire fuel resources (Simmons, I. G. 1991). Mounting one calorie of foodstuff calls for the use of three calories of vestige fuel consumption for machinery, electricity, and fertilizer, and slightest nine calories of fuel during dispensation and market shipping are included. This still does not include building the haulage vehicles, roads, and factories.
Genetic propagation of seeds and animals that yield highly has resulted to more monocropping and less hereditary variety in the globalized agriculture that deals with cash crops. Often the seeds are hybrids thus they do not reproduce other new seeds that would be used in future to grow crops. Therefore, farmers must buy each year’s seeds from the agricultural industry which in return has increased the cost of production. These high-yield seeds are not adapted to ecological stressors found in the diverse habitats without the use of purchased chemical fertilizer and insect killer inputs. However these pesticides used are not long lasting hence need frequent application to the plants for effectiveness (Merchant, Carolyn, 1992). Thus pesticides’ long-term security to consumers and the surroundings is questioned by many biologists such as Rachel Carson, who in 1962 uncovered the effects of pesticides in book, Silent Spring.
Also, farmers earn less on their produce as compared to the amount of money they use to grow the same products. Therefore, they are in a situation where they are likely to make some losses instead of making profits. Since the Neolithic times, enlarged crop capacity has not essentially led to the production of better nutrition, as food sharing, admittance, and quality of the nutrients of the resulting diet are often insufficient (Grey, Mark A., 2000). High food production and consumption lead to high population density, which in return increases the risk of communicable disease because of waste administration problems and peoples’ closeness to each other.
Therefore, we can conclude that, the globalization and ecological advancement has both negative and positive effects to the human beings and the other inhabitants found in the same environment as it has been illustrated above (Bookchin, Murray, 1995).
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