Posts Tagged ‘food webs’

The food chains and webs – the ecological system around us

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Humans eat many things, there is diversity around the world, and diversity could even be much bigger. Some foods are considered basic – grains, meat – although nobody seems to know why. The reasons are probably historic, geographic, economic, social. It would be wise to think anew – the human food systems are not sustainable, health-wise non-optimized or unconsciously arrived at, even unhealthy. A big change must come, and we should start thinking about improvements now.

All organisms are naturally involved in food chains where the food is found naturally, it is produced as part of the system. Plants grow and are naturally harvested and nourished, organisms eat and get eaten, and humans may live off the abundance offered to them. If we combine food chains to see where organisms are found, and see the combinations and interactions, we have a food web. So everything is originally part of an ecosystem where organisms live off each other and support each other. Natural ecosystems provide food for all participating organisms functioning together.

Humans were once part of these systems too, finding food via growths, fisheries, hunting. This still goes on, but the extent of harvesting from nature’s  food chains is being reduced. Some say it will soon be reduced to near nothing.

The human food chain is becoming very special, and is largely made up by growing plants and breeding animals solely for human consumption. These plants and animals, including seafood are grown artificially by means of oilbased fertilizer, chemicals, large petrol based machines, masses of water and manpower.

We disrupt everything: large scale isolated breeding of animals, fish, plants, mining/quarrying, fuel use, artificial ecosystems, building cities, spreading chemicals, altering water lanes/rivers, transporting things all over the world, back and forth.

The ecosystems are taken away, food production is becoming fully industrialized. This is clearly not sustainable.

The alternative is harvesting natural ecosystems, nurturing them, supporting them, changing our ways of food production into natural ones. The recent emergence of permaculture, eco foods, small scale farming, city farming are showing the way.

This has to be combined with a better understanding of how foods  work in our bodies, how a sound diet really is put together. Many variations are possible, but the knowledge is not yet there. We must find what we really need to include in a good diet: It seems everything works, meat or no meat, vegetarian, fruitarians etc. and all seem to live well.

Food is all about energy and how fast it burns in our bodies and how much energy you consume via the activities you engage in. If you consume more energy equivalents than you need in a given space of time, long term your health will be affected. And all the rest – vitamins, minerals, trace substances – must be there too.

It is time to start putting human food into context of ecology again – get it into the food webs, make it natural. As usual it starts with each one of us – it comes from the individuals – do a little of your own food production – it will be a start and a help for you and all.

The ecological system is there – let us harvest.