Managing Food Production

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Improving the Efficiency of Food Production

1) Reducing the Number of Stages in the Food Chain:

  • At each stage in the food chain, less material and less energy are continued in the biomass of the organism.
  • For a given area of land you produce more food by growing crops, than by rearing animals.
  • However we need a varied diet to stay healthy and there is a large demand for meat products.
  • Some land is also unsuitable for growing crops,. e.g moorland or hill sides, and so animals might be the best way to get food from the land.

2) Restricting the Energy Lost From Food Animals:

  • Intensive farming reduces energy loss by limiting the animals movement.
  • Animals are also kept close together and indoors, enabling the temperature of their surroundings to be controlled, and therefore less energy is lost in the form of heat.
  • This means that the transfer of energy form the animal feed to the animal is more efficient, so the animals will grow faster on less food. So food production is cheaper.
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Improving the Efficiency of Food Production

3) Developing New Food Sources like Mycoprotein:

  • Mycoprotein means protein form fungi.
  • The fungus Fusarium is useful for producing mycoprotein, a protein-rich foods suitable for vegetarians.
  • The fungus is grown on glucose syrup, in aerobic conditions, and the biomass is harvested and purified. 

Growing the Fungus Fusarium:

  • It is grown in fermenters - a big container full of liquid culture medium, which microorganisms can grow and reproduce in. 
  • Use glucose syrup as food - obtained by digesting maize starch with enzymes.
  • Oxygen is supplies as it respires aerobically.
  • Nitrogen (as ammonia) and other minerals also supplied.
  • The fermenter is initially sterilised using steam to prevent other microorganisms growing in the fermenter.
  • Incoming nutrients are heat sterilised and the air supplied is filtered.
  • The mycoprotein is then harvested and purified.
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Advantages of Mycoprotein

Mycoprotein is grown in fermenters, which is an efficient way of producing protein to feed people, especially in developing countries.

Uses less space than animals

The microorganisms grow very quickly.

Mycoprotein can feed on waste material, which animals can't

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Sustainable Food Production

  • Sustainable food production is having enough food without using resources faster than they renew.
  • Fish stocks in the oceans are declining due to overfishing.
  • It is important to maintain fish stocks as a level where breeding continues, or certain species may disappear altogether in some areas.

Fish stocks can be caused by:

  • Fishing quotas - limits on the number/size of fish that can be caught in certain areas.
  • Net size - there are different limits of the mesh size of the fish net, depending on what's being fished. Using a bigger mesh size will let the 'unwanted' species and younger, smaller fish to escape, allowing them to reach breeding age. This also reduces the number of discarded fish.

Food Miles:

  • Food miles is the distance by which food is transported from where they're produced to where they're sold. This can be expensive and bad for the environment.
  • Planes, ships and trucks all burn scarce fossil fuels and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. 
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Efficientcy of Food Production

Advantages of Efficient Food Production:

  • Cheaper food
  • Better standards of living for farmers
  • Helps feed an increasing human population.

Disadvantages of Efficient Food Production:

  • Some people think intensive farming is cruel, as the animals are uncomfortable. However growing demands for organic meats mean a reduction in intensive farming.
  • Diseases, such as foot-and-mouth, spread easily in the crowded conditions on factory farms.
  • Antibiotics are given to animals to prevent disease and these enter humans when the meas is consumed. This allows microbes that infect humans to develop immunity to these antibiotics and so antibiotics become less effective as human medicines
  • Heating used to reduce the energy animals lose as heat uses power, usually generated from burning fossil fuels.
  • Fish stocks are declining. 
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