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Food Talks @ UofT

February 25, 2011

Looks like we’re about to get spoiled, because there are two (count em!) fascinating lectures related to sustainable food and agriculture coming to UofT in the first few weeks of March.

Sustainable Place-making: towards a new spatial imagination for agri-food and urban-rural relations

Speaker: Terry Marsden – Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning Director of the Research Institute for Sustainable Places, Cardiff University

March 1st, 3:00-5:00pm, Sidney Smith (100 St. George) Room 2125

There is now a vast body of research which explores the emergence of ‘alternative’ food networks and their particular spatial, social and economic characteristics. This paper attempts to put this work in a wider and more challenging contemporary context. In recent years, and especially since the global price rises in foods in 2007-8, we have seen a new ‘framing’ of food security, climate change, population increases, resource scarcity dynamics in ways which could continually marginalize such alternative movements. 

Alternative and ‘local’ food movements need to be seen in an increasing politically and spatially contested context, a context where the bio-economy is creating more legitimacy in its ability to ‘feed the world’. The paper will trace this new political and economic architecture with reference to empirical studies in Europe and China. It is argued that we need to re-conceptualise a more grounded and multifunctional notion of place as part of integrating the local economy, community and ecology. Sustainable place-making needs a vibrant and engaging sustainability science which challenges the assumptions of different shades of ecological modernization.

Part of the “Intersections” 2011 Geography and Planning Speakers Series

The Ecology of Food:  Can We Feed the World and Save the Earth?

Speaker: David Tilman – Regents’ Professor & McKnight Presidential Chair in Ecology, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour, University of Minnesota

March 9th, 4:30-6:00pm, University College Room 140

Agriculture is a major force of global environmental change, and currently accounts for more global greenhouse gas release than transportation. Moreover, even if accelerating demand for biofuel crops is ignored, demand for agricultural crops will likely double by 2050. The method by which this crop demand is met will greatly influence the future impacts of global agriculture on greenhouse gas releases, loss of biodiversity, and nitrogen pollution of groundwater, freshwaters, and marine ecosystems.  Global food supply can be increased by intensifying agricultural practices on existing croplands and by clearing native ecosystems to create additional croplands. Each method has global environmental impacts. Meeting future global food demand through moderate but strategic agricultural intensification on currently underperforming croplands would greatly mitigate environmental impacts from greenhouse gas emissions, land clearing, and fertilizer use.

A University College 2011 Graham Lecture

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