Monday, August 15, 2011
It's good to be back! Spring lambs abound (albeit in winter) to tantalise our taste buds with plenty of exciting new challenges ahead! Being a total nerd with no social life over the last six months really paid off although I think I may have set the bar a little too high. Hopefully, and with a little luck I'll be able to keep my GPA at 6.75 for at least one more semester.
This time around I'll be studying Biometry (some super boring and impossibly hard computer-based statistical unit), Resource Sustainability, Food Science 1 and Crop Production. Most are pretty interesting. One of them is unmentionable. Funny how the crappiest content-overloaded courses all begin with 'Bio'...
Food Science 1 looks like it'll be pretty exciting stuff. We get to make bread and yoghurt, compare taste, titration and brix results of fresh and commercial orange juice, we even get to visit a sake production plant! Crop production is by far my favourite though. Nothing beats being out in the field on a Friday morning with the sun's gently warming rays, knees deep in chalky soil tending to my mountain of kale and strawberries.
Resource Sustainability assessments sound terrible from what I've heard but I think it's something that is incredibly important to learn about. Where does our food and energy come from? Can we continue current practices well into the future? How can we minimise our carbon footprint? Are we able to find a balance between the growing human population and our ever increasing resource consumption?
There are some hot topics on the student discussion board and it seems like there are so many more aspects to consider than first thought when it comes to living sustainably. Sure, some of us can live the slow life on an isolated property with a tiny mud house, a swale and a food forest, but what about the rest of us? The global population is estimated to hit 9 billion people by 2050 and urban populations will soar. With increased housing, property sizes will shrink so what happens then?
In terms of the sustainability of our food production I think that the key aspect that we need to face up to, whether we live in urban or regional areas, is waste. Waste is created when fruit doesn't grow to be picture perfect, when tomatoes don't survive the long haul to the supermarket, when we peel back the husks of corn, when we're not quite sure what to do with that last mushroom or we leave an avocado sitting out for just a tad too long. It becomes an environmental problem when we chuck it all in a hole somewhere far, far away and it's left to produce toxic methane and leachate. Harvesting crops, burying excess in plastic and flushing the rest out to sea means that farmland is becoming degraded.
We're still years away from convincing people to think of human poop as a renewable resource but the answer seems fairly simple and straightforward. Why don't we have a separate bin to collect biodegradable household waste? If we could keep it separate and send it off to a processing plant to be turned into compost through the use of worms, bacteria or heat, then we'd have a crapload of organic matter to redistribute to improve nature strips or backyard gardens or farms or whatever. Is it really that hard to make such a small adaptation to a system that we already have firmly in place?