Module 2.2: Historical Development and Change in Food Systems
The environment-food systems characterized by agriculture have exerted transformative effects on environmental and social systems. This unit offers an overview by distinguishing four principal historical-geographic periods of environment-food systems that begin with early agriculture between 10,000 and 4,000 BC. It also introduces modern industrial agriculture and ecological modernization and alternative-food networks (such as organic and local environment-food systems) as a pair of generally distinct types that are currently predominant and actively evolving. The model of Coupled Natural-Human Systems (CNHS) is used to characterize each historical-geographic period. CNHS definitions of drivers, feedbacks, positive feedback, and negative feedback are utilized. To understand the spread of agriculture and its transformation of environments and societies basic concepts such as spatial diffusion and adaptation are used.