Impact of Our Food System on Earth’s Environment

The complexities of our food system and its impact on the environment are at the forefront of a national debate.  A PBS LearningMedia video and accompanying handout is aligned with National Standards to examine how the eating choices of humans affect not only the landscape of the natural world, but also the balance of species on earth and the global climate crisis.  According to some estimates, agriculture is a 15-25% contributor to climate change. Michael Pollan, the author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, explains how the shift from solar-based agriculture before World War II to fossil fuel-based agriculture afterwards affected the efficiency of both food production and fossil fuel usage.

With rising oil prices and dwindling non-renewable resources, our current system of food production cannot be sustained forever, which has led some to explore alternative sources of food. This video and accompanying handout and can get grade 9-12 students thinking more seriously about buying local as they consider the environmental impacts of America’s current food system.

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