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Population And Food History Essay

1071 words - 4 pages

The interaction between people and food is, in my opinion, one of the most sacred and fruitful relations in the history of humankind – in simple words, everyone loves to eat. A double cheeseburger with three slices of bacon, lettuce and tomato, mashed potatoes covered with brown gravy, stuffing, and a strawberry milkshake; unless it is served at Bruff, there is no more appetizing meal I can think of. Nonetheless, besides the satisfaction a certain clientele derives from consuming such savory type of food, little do they know about the congenital connections between what they are eating and global-reaching issues such as: climate change, poverty, economic fluctuations, and cultural distortions. Hence, it seems rather absurd to try to understand the evolution of the human race population without analyzing the development of food production and its impact in the environment. Having that said, the objective of this short essay is to describe the intrinsic connection between food and population through the writings of Thomas Malthus, Jared Diamond, and Michael Pollan.

The quest for a definite understanding of the relation between population and food can be traced back to the late 1790’s when reverent Thomas Robert Malthus published “An Essay on the Principle of Population.” On his essay, Malthus describes humans’ necessity for food and reproduction patterns as fixed laws of nature that will remain unchanged unless the creator of the complex system of the universe intervenes. Moreover, Malthus proceeds to assert that population’s geometrical ratio of increase is a prominent threat to the earth carrying capacity’ arithmetical growth ratio. “An Essay on the Principle of Population” concludes by arguing that in order for humankind to succeed, it is vital to equalize population and earth carrying capacity’ expansion forces.

Jared Diamond, a professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, on his 2005 New York Times bestseller, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” attempts to delineate the core causes of societal collapse. In his book, Diamond depicts an authentic analysis of the issue and defines collapse as “a drastic decrease in human population size and/or political, economic, or social complexity, over a considerable area, for an extended period of time.” This sort of collective structural decay tends to be caused, according to Diamond, by a set of five factors that prove to have a significant influence depending on the particular civilization that is being analyzed. The five-factor approach developed by Diamond blames societal collapse on: degradation of natural resources, climate change, inter-societal relations, trading patterns, and most importantly, cultural-based responses to environmental concerns. Because the environment is the prime supplier of food, it is imperative to comprehend how food can contribute to societal downfall, such as the Maya, Eastern Island, and the Greenland Norse collapses, or...

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