Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Food Production

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Food Production

Some of us take a fully stocked supermarket for granted. With the labour and resources that goes into food production, it’s no wonder that agriculture is the biggest industry in the world. Without access to a balanced diet, people are prone to disease, malnutrition and, in severe cases, starvation. With an increasing world population, food security is at risk. Therefore, it is important to look into sustainable food production to ensure that everyone has access to food, not only today but for future generations.

Basic knowledge of Food Production

Food production can be summarised using the term ‘farm to table’. It essentially encompasses the 3-part food production process: input processing output. Each part can be referred to as follows:

  • Input = raw material, i.e. the crops or livestock from a farm - it is dependent on the diversity of species across the planet.

  • Processing = manufacturing the raw material/s, usually in a food manufacturing plant, into a food commodity.

  • Output = final product, the food commodity you would expect to see in the supermarket.

The production of flour = unprocessed wheat grain milling of the wheat grain flour

The Food Production Process

Farming food crops and livestock in the food production process is vital! Agriculture has been around for thousands of years as many folks used to grow their own food and raise their livestock. Albeit on a smaller scale, just enough to feed themselves and their families. Nowadays, modern farming techniques are employed to produce food on a much grander scale to feed vast populations in modern urban cities and larger towns.

To cater to the increased demand for food, farming techniques used during food production must be efficient without compromising on yield and quality. This allows farmers to get maximum increase in animal biomass as efficiently as possible, and the customer gets them as cheaply as possible.

Biomass is an organism’s total amount or weight in a particular area or volume.

Restricting the energy transfer of the animal to the environment is one method that can help improve the efficiency of food production. Animals respire, which allows them to move around and control their body temperature, but it requires energy transfer. To prevent this loss of efficiency, the following can be done:

  • Controlling the surrounding temperature - keeping livestock at a temperature that is not too hot or not too cold means the animal can use less energy regulating their body temperatures.

  • Limiting movement - keeping livestock in smaller areas means they move less and reduces the need for respiration.

Limiting the need for these processes means there is less respiration, and the animals use up less energy. This means more biomass is available for growth.

Animals in these smaller spaces are often fed antibiotics to help prevent disease. Some scientists believe this is adding to the antibiotic resistance in bacteria problem. Read more about this in our article Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria.

Another method to increase the growth of animals is by feeding them high-protein foods. If we look at the food chain of certain animals that we eat, like a chicken, we can see that it eats plants in nature. However, by the time the chicken is ready to be eaten, it has used up most of the plant’s biomass.

Feeding the animal another animal allows for the growth rate of the animal to increase, however it does reduce efficiency. For example, traditionally, the food chain would look like plant → chicken → human, but with the introduction of fish meal to chicken in modern farming techniques, it now looks like plant → fish → chicken → human. This extra step reduces efficiency but yields bigger chickens!

Ethical concerns

With the increase in demand for cheap meat and animal products, some may argue that these modern intensive farming techniques are unethical. Keeping livestock in confined spaces, like in factory farming, has the potential to spread diseases, and many think it is controversial to keep animals in unnatural conditions.

Due to the strong ethical objections to some of these practices, rearing chickens and veal (calves) in small cages or pens have now been banned in the UK and across the EU.

On the contrary, it can be difficult to judge what exactly is best for the chickens or cattle being reared. In places like the UK, where it gets cold, windy and rains a lot, particularly in the winter, a cow may prefer to be indoors in a barn where temperatures can be controlled. Many of the modern farming practices in the UK balance animal welfare and maximum yield.

Food Production and its Impact on the Environment

Intensive farming practices are proving to harm the surrounding environment. With agriculture being the world’s largest industry, innovations in the different stages of farming have led to increased crop and livestock yield. Take a look at the table below to see some farming techniques, and how they impact the environment.

Modern Farming Technique
Description
Impact on Environment
Livestock grazing
Millions of acres of land are set aside for agricultural livestock grazing.
- Deforestation to make space for grazing land.
- Livestock are responsible for a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions, notably methane.
- Overgrazing leads to environmental degradation.
Monoculture
Growing one type of crop across large fields to maximise profits.
- Reduction in biodiversity as key nutrients are quickly lost in the soil.
Hedgerow removal
Allows fields to be bigger and easier to tend to with big farm machinery.
- Loss of habitat for many species, therefore, reduces biodiversity.
Use of machinery
Many crops are harvested, sown and/or treated with heavy machinery. Can cover larger areas.
- Large machinery creates pollution.
Synthetic fertiliser use
Chemical fertilisers help to increase plant growth which in turn increases food production.
- Runoff can enter watercourses leading to eutrophication - threatening biodiversity and health of native plants and aquatic species.
- Formation and release of nitrous oxide, a harmful greenhouse gas.

Factors affecting food production

Think about the importance of food. With over or under consumption of food, people are susceptible to diseases, malnutrition or starvation. A balanced diet is necessary for world health. This means that food production is necessary to ensure populations all across the globe get the food they need.

However, it is not just about ensuring that enough food is grown or produced, it also covers access. What good is it if all this food is available, but no one can get their hands on it, either by growing it themselves or by buying it in the supermarket? This is where food security comes in. Food security is the measure of having enough food to feed a specific population. This population could refer to a range of different scales of people such as a household, a region, a whole country etc. Food security indicates the availability of food, whether it is suitable for consumption (a measure of quality) and if people of specific populations can access it.

There are biological factors which can threaten food security. These are listed in the table below:

Biological factors
Its impact on food security
An increasing world population
Increasing birth rates, particularly in developing countries, and better access to medical care means that the world population is rising. A possible threat to food security as there may not be enough food to go around.
Changing diets
In places like Europe and North America, the increase in demand for more interesting foods means that scarce food resources from other countries (usually developing countries) are sent over. Therefore the local population is deprived of their traditional food, or the prices are hiked up.
Environmental changes
Such as global warming which has brought about severe weather like droughts and floods. This has devastating effects on food security as crops fail to grow, animals die, and people can starve.
New pests and pathogens
World travel and climate change have led to an increase in new pests and pathogens moving from one place to another. These can affect food crops or livestock.
Increased farming costs
Agricultural inputs cost money. Things such as machinery, fertilisers, seeds, water irrigation systems, livestock etc can be expensive. So instead of helping with yield, it can hinder food security.
Conflicts
Since infrastructure can get destroyed during conflicts of war, it can affect the availability of water and food and increase food costs.

Sustainable food production

With an increasing human population across the globe, sustainable food production is a necessary step. This is about ensuring that everyone gets enough food, and this supply can continue for many years.

Implementing sustainable farming and food production methods can help to overcome food shortages, help those with food security issues and ensure that resources are not used faster than they can be renewed. It involves implementing actions such as:

  • Reducing the number of stages in a food chain to improve food production efficiency, such as using microorganisms.

  • Soil quality maintenance so plants can grow for successive generations.

  • Looking after the fish in our oceans and seas to ensure stocks aren’t depleted.

Organic farming

Intensive farming methods reduce biodiversity, increase pollution, and degrade the surrounding environment. Many object to this type of farming. As a result, some farmers have started to become more organic. Organic farming intends to reduce the extent of damage that intensive farming has. It does this by reducing the use of machinery, avoiding pesticides, and using natural fertilisers like manure or compost.

Some organic farmers also rotate their crops, avoiding monoculture. This helps to:

These more natural methods of organic farming are more labour intensive and make crops vulnerable to disease due to the lack of pesticides. This increased risk of crop failure and extra labour means organic produce is more expensive.

Food Production - Key takeaways

  • Food production can be summarised as a 3-part process: input processing output.
  • Modern farming techniques aim to maximise animal biomass as efficiently as possible while keeping costs down for the customers. However, it does come with ethical concerns.
  • Intensive farming practices reduce biodiversity, increase pollution, and degrade the surrounding environment.
  • Food security is the measure of food availability for a given population, and many factors can threaten this, including an increasing world population, conflict and climate change.
  • Sustainable food production is necessary to ensure that everyone gets fed today and for future generations without using resources faster than they can be renewed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Food Production

It involves implementing actions such as:

  • Reducing the number of stages in a food chain to improve food production efficiency

  • Soil quality maintenance so plants can grow for successive generations

  • Looking after the fish in our oceans and seas to ensure stocks aren’t depleted

  • An increasing population
  • Changing diets
  • Environmental changes
  • New pests and pathogens
  • Increased farming costs
  • Conflicts

Catching fish, raising livestock, collecting eggs, growing food crops

To produce food to feed large populations.

They help to improve food production efficiency by reducing the number of stages in a food chain.

Final Food Production Quiz

Question

Summarise food production

Show answer

Answer

Food production can be summarised as a 3-part process: input → processing → output.

Show question

Question

What is difference between traditional farming and modern farming?

Show answer

Answer

Traditional farming used to grow their crops and rear their livestock on a smaller scale to feed their families and themselves. Modern farming produces food on a much grander scale to cater to large populations from cities and bigger towns.

Show question

Question

What is the main purpose of modern farming techniques?

Show answer

Answer

To increase yield as efficiently as possible

Show question

Question

Controlling the surrounding temperature is one way to increase efficiency in livestock, how does it do that?

Show answer

Answer

Keeping livestock at a temperature that is not too hot or not too cold means the animal can use less energy regulating their body temperatures.

Show question

Question

How is disease prevented in animals kept in small spaces? What is the issue with that?

Show answer

Answer

Antibiotics - the issue is that scientists believe this leads to antibiotic resistance.

Show question

Question

Which method is used to increase the growth of animals?

Show answer

Answer

Feeding them high-protein foods

Show question

Question

Which modern farming practices have been banned in the UK and across the EU?

Show answer

Answer

Rearing veal in small pens and keeping chickens in small cages.

Show question

Question

How does monoculture farming impact the environment?

Show answer

Answer

Reduction in biodiversity as key nutrients are quickly lost in the soil.

Show question

Question

How does hedgerow removal impact the environment?

Show answer

Answer

Loss of habitat for many species, therefore, reduces biodiversity.

Show question

Question

How does eutrophication have a negative impact on the environment?

Show answer

Answer

Chemical fertilisers runoff into watercourses leading to overgrowth of aquatic plants and algae this can threaten biodiversity and health of native plants and aquatic species.

Show question

Question

Name 3 actions that can be implemented to improve sustainability of farming.

Show answer

Answer

  • Reducing the number of stages in a food chain to improve food production efficiency
  • Soil quality maintenance so plants can grow for successive generations
  • Looking after the fish in our oceans and seas to ensure stocks aren’t depleted

Show question

Question

Why is organic produce more expensive?

Show answer

Answer

Increased manual labour and risk of crop failure

Show question

Question

Define the term 'food security'.

Show answer

Answer

Food security is the measure of food availability for a given population

Show question

Question

How has world travel impacted food security?

Show answer

Answer

World travel has led to the increase in new pests and pathogens moving from one place to another. These can affect food crops or livestock.

Show question

Question

Which factors can affect food security?

Show answer

Answer

Increased population, climate change, increased farming costs

Show question

Question

Define fish stock in relation to fishing

Show answer

Answer

Fish stock refers to the populations or communities of fish that are usually caught for food

Show question

Question

What has caused a dramatic decline in wild fish stocks?

Show answer

Answer

Overfishing to keep up with consumer demands. This is caused by large commercial fishing ships occupying the oceans where they catch many of the wild edible fish.

Show question

Question

If uncontrolled overfishing continues, what could happen?

Show answer

Answer

Less edible fish.

Show question

Question

What are the benefits of increasing the gaps in fishing nets?

Show answer

Answer

Smaller, juvenile fish are able to pass through the larger gaps in the net and live on till breeding age.

Show question

Question

What is a major problem with using nets?

Show answer

Answer

A major problem that needs to be addressed is that larger unwanted species are often still caught in nets and simply discarded leading to a reduction in these species.

Show question

Question

What do fishing quotas cover?

Show answer

Answer

It relates to bans on the particular size and quantity of a fish species that can be caught in a given area at a given time, like during breeding season.

Show question

Question

How do fishing quotas prevent fish stock levels from being maintained?

Show answer

Answer

Once fishermen are over their quota limit, they simply throw away any excess back into the sea but at this point, the fish are already dead.

Show question

Question

Name an alternative to catching fish in the wild.

Show answer

Answer

Fish farming

Show question

Question

Define fish farming

Show answer

Answer

Fish farming is where large numbers of fish are raised in seawater or freshwater artificial enclosures or tanks

Show question

Question

How do fish farms contribute to sustainable fishing?

Show answer

Answer

Fish farming allows for a rapid supply of food, that can keep up with the supply demands at a faster rate than the oceans.

Show question

Question

__________ competition is the predation within the same species.

Show answer

Answer

Intraspecies

Show question

Question

___________ competition is the predation between different species.

Show answer

Answer

Interspecies

Show question

Question

How do fish farmers use selective breeding to increase yield?

Show answer

Answer

They only allow the fish with the desired traits to reproduce, such as rapid growth.

Show question

Question

The ability to maintain water quality is a benefit of fish farming, how does this improve the health of humans?

Show answer

Answer

Many of the fish in the wild are subjected to significant amounts of heavy metals (like mercury) and other pollutants. This ends up in the flesh of fish and is ultimately consumed by humans and can lead to significant health problems. Controlling water quality can prevent this.

Show question

Question

How can fish farming negatively affect wild fish stocks?

Show answer

Answer

Some fish are fed high-protein diets, this is usually made up of other fish, usually caught from the wild.

Show question

Question

Define: Biotechnology

Show answer

Answer

Biotechnology is the exploitation of biological processes in living organisms for industrial and other purposes for human use.

Show question

Question

What is a modern technique of biotechnology?

Show answer

Answer

Genetic modification

Show question

Question

Select an example of biotechnology used in food production

Show answer

Answer

Use of pectinase to produce fruit juice

Show question

Question

Briefly describe how Mycoprotein is produced.

Show answer

Answer

The fungus Fusarium is cultured in large industrial fermenters where the optimum conditions, such as pH and temperature, are able to be controlled. It is provided with oxygen and glucose for food to allow the fungus to respire aerobically. These ideal conditions let the Fusarium reproduce multiple times. The biomass is then harvested and cleaned to produce mycoprotein.

Show question

Question

What is Mycoprotein?

Show answer

Answer

Mycoprotein is a vegetarian-friendly, rich source of protein food.

Show question

Question

What is the benefit of using biotechnology in fish farming?

Show answer

Answer

It allows fish farmers to meet the growing demands and need for good quality fish.

Show question

Question

How does the use of plant-based protein benefit fish farming?

Show answer

Answer

Conserving the environment comes as a byproduct of using plant-based protein sources which contain far less phosphorus than fish-based protein. Plant-based protein is also a cheaper and sometimes more nutritionally valuable source of food.

Show question

Question

What is genetic modification?

Show answer

Answer

This is when an identified gene in a different species is removed using enzymes and placed into the DNA of another organism. When this occurs the resulting organism is known as transgenic.

Show question

Question

Select examples of why genetic modification is used in food crops

Show answer

Answer

To produce more nutritionally valuable crops

Show question

Question

Why does selective breeding not come with the same ethical concerns that genetic modification comes with?

Show answer

Answer

Genetic modification involves human intervention by introducing genes to host organisms to create new gene combinations - some believe this veers too far from the natural process. Whereas selective breeding, is just about the artificial selection of mating partners, genetic material is not tampered with.

Show question

Question

Why is it important that the same restriction enzymes is used to cut the bacteria plasmid and the human gene?

Show answer

Answer

This ensures that corresponding sections of unpaired bases pairs are created so that these 'sticky ends' are able to match up to form a whole DNA sequence.

Show question

Question

What is a plasmid?

Show answer

Answer

A circular DNA strand found in the cytoplasm of a bacterial cell.

Show question

Question

Briefly describe how human insulin is produced using bacteria.

Show answer

Answer

  • The gene for insulin is isolated using restriction enzymes.
  • A section of the bacterial plasmid is cut to create corresponding sticky ends.
  • Using DNA ligase, the plasmid and isolated insulin gene are joined together.
  • The transgenic organism is placed into a fermenter where it produces human insulin.

Show question

Question

How does genetically modified crops help to reduce unnecessary food waste?

Show answer

Answer

Genetically modified crops can help to reduce unnecessary food waste by helping farmers minimise crop loss while also conserving resources.

Show question

Question

Eutrophication can be detrimental to the environment, how do plant-based food sources used in fish farming reduce this?

Show answer

Answer

Plant-based food sources tend to have less phosphorus than meat-based sources of food.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Food Production quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.