For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Future of Food Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Changes in Food Availability
Middle- and upper-class Americans have access to an amazing diversity of fresh foods today. The same can be said of other developed countries. Globalization of the food network and improvements in shipping technology has enabled this to come about. It was not that long ago in this country that only canned vegetables were available in winter, except where winters were mild. In contrast, in today's so-called "food deserts" where supermarkets are not present, and the populace is poor, people typically do their grocery shopping at convenience stores which have very little variety of real as opposed to highly processed and packaged foods. Food deserts occur both in the cities and in rural areas.
In poor countries, i.e., for the bulk of the human population, food availability has been narrowing to ever larger proportions of ever fewer staple crops. This is especially so in cities, and the world's population today is more than 50% urban. In rural areas practicing traditional farming, many weeds are edible and can supplement the diet of those who may be too poor to cultivate anything other than rice. In cities, even edible weeds are lacking, at least in comparison to the huge numbers of people present. And in Green Revolution rural areas, where herbicides destroy the weeds, it becomes similarly difficult to supplement the staple, starch-producing crops. Many Green Revolution farmers grow fresh vegetables and fruits, but typically these are exported to the developed world.