5.2 Terrestrial food production systems and food choices

Significant ideas:

  • The sustainability of terrestrial food production systems is influenced by socio-political, economic and ecological factors.
  • Consumers have a role to play through their support of different terrestrial food production systems.
  • The supply of food is inequitably available and land suitable for food production is unevenly distributed among societies, and this can lead to conflict and concerns.

Knowledge and understanding:

  1. The sustainability of terrestrial food production systems is influenced by factors such as scale; industrialization; mechanization; fossil fuel use; seed, crop and livestock choices; water use; fertilizers; pest control; pollinators; antibiotics; legislation; and levels of commercial versus subsistence food production.
  2. Inequalities exist in food production and distribution around the world.
  3. Food waste is prevalent in both LEDCs and more economically developed countries (MEDCs), but for different reasons.
  4. Socio-economic, cultural, ecological, political and economic factors can be seen to influence societies in their choices of food production systems.
  5. As the human population grows, along with urbanization and degradation of soil resources, the availability of land for food production per capita decreases.
  6. The yield of food per unit area from lower trophic levels is greater in quantity, lower in cost and may require fewer resources.
  7. Cultural choices may influence societies to harvest food from higher trophic levels.
  8. Terrestrial food production systems can be compared and contrasted according to inputs, outputs, system characteristics, environmental impact and socio- economic factors.
  9. Increased sustainability may be achieved through:
    • altering human activity to reduce meat consumption and increase consumption of organically grown and locally produced terrestrial food products
    • improving the accuracy of food labels to assist consumers in making informed food choices
    • monitoring and control of the standards and practices of multinational and national food corporations by governmental and intergovernmental bodies
    • planting of buffer zones around land suitable for food production to absorb nutrient runoff.

Applications and skills:

  • Analyse tables and graphs that illustrate the differences in inputs and outputs associated with food production systems.
  • Compare and contrast the inputs, outputs and system characteristics for two given food production systems.
  • Evaluate the relative environmental impacts of two given food production systems.
  • Discuss the links that exist between socio-cultural systems and food production systems.
  • Evaluate strategies to increase sustainability in terrestrial food production systems.

International-mindedness:

  • Food choices can be influenced by culture, religion or regional food production differences.

Theory of knowledge:

  • Consumer behaviour plays an important role in food production systems—are there general laws that can describe human behaviour?

Connections:

  • Environmental value systems (1.1)
  • Flows of energy and matter (2.3)
  • Communities and ecosystems (2.2)
  • Investigating ecosystems (2.5)
  • Threats to biodiversity (3.3)
  • Water pollution (4.4)
  • Introduction to soil systems (5.1)
  • Soil degradation and conservation (5.3)
  • Resource use in society (8.2)
  • Solid domestic waste (8.3)
  • Human population carrying capacity (8.4)