Graham MacDonald, McGill University

Agriculture plays a critical role in global sustainability. Farming systems face dual pressures to respond to growing and changing food demand while also reducing negative impacts on the environment, including critical ecosystem services on which agriculture depends.

However, the relationship between agricultural production and food consumption is also increasingly complex due to urbanization and globalization, which spatially ‘decouple’ rural production and increasingly urban demand. This talk will discuss some key trends related to agriculture and food in a global context, drawing on examples of land use, food trade, and consumption patterns. Local case studies will also illustrate some key challenges and opportunities related to urban agriculture and nutrient recycling to farmlands. I will conclude by discussing some early efforts to assess urban ‘foodsheds’, which can help to link demand for food in cities to producing regions and broader changes in rural agriculture.

Sponsored by

Department of Environmental Sciences,

Environmental Resilience Institute, and 

Global Environment + Sustainability Program