Farming for the Future: What should modern agriculture look like?

Speaker: Miguel Ochoa

How can we make the world a better place through food?

Agriculture is over 12,000 years old and forms the foundation of modern civilization. It is not one singular advancement, but rather many technological innovations built on top of each other. Yet while many of these technologies have helped humans produce staggering amounts of food, they have also brought new issues with them, such as soil degradation, excessive fossil fuel use, unhealthy diets, water pollution, and farmworker labor exploitation. This presentation explores core questions about agriculture: How many different people, in various corners of the world, does it take to produce even a single meal? What inputs go into our food systems, and what happens with all the waste? How should the future of farming look? How can we make the world a better place through food?

About the Speaker

Miguel Ochoa is a PhD student in UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, and his research focuses on the intersection between agroecological management practices, climate-resilient crop production, and rural economic development. Miguel was born in California's central valley and comes from a long heritage of farmers and farmworkers, and has previously spent time in Central America studying sustainable farming practices on coffee plantations in Costa Rica's Guanacaste province. He holds two Bachelor's degrees from UC Irvine in Chicano/Latinx Studies and Biological Sciences, where his thesis focused on dynamic plant ecophysiology in the face of extreme drought in California. He is a recipient of the Berkeley Chancellor's Fellowship and the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, and currently serves as a mentor to undergraduate students through UC Berkeley's Latinx & the Environment initiative.

Suggested Audiences

Age: 6th - 12th grade and community college

Preparation: There is no preparation necessary for this presentation but optional prepartion is to view this hour-long documentary, Agroecology in Cuba. Also, on the day of the presentation the speaker requests that the teacher provide students with paper copies of this document about food systems (ideally in color).

Courses: Biology, Environmental Science, Global Studies, World History, US History, Human Geography, Ethnic Studies, Economics, and any other course that addresses environmental topics.

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