Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Third Edition, 3rd Edition (Hardback) book cover


The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Third Edition, 3rd Edition

By Stephen R. Gliessman

CRC Press

405 pages | 219 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2014-12-09
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Key features:

  • Details concepts and includes examples of their application in real-world situations
  • Provides an essential ecological foundation for food system sustainability
  • Introduces five levels that can be used to promote the transition to sustainable food systems
  • Poses challenging questions as food for thought after each chapter, as well as websites for key organizations working in the areas covered in each chapter
  • Supplies a hopeful and achievable alternative to the present-day industrial model of food systems
  • Agroecology is a science, a productive practice, and part of a social movement that is at the forefront of transforming food systems to sustainability. Building upon the ecological foundation of the agroecosystem, Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Third Edition provides the essential foundation for understanding sustainability in all of its components: agricultural, ecological, economic, social, cultural, and even political. It presents a case for food system change and why the current industrial model of food production and distribution is not sustainable.

    See What’s New in the Third Edition:

    • Chapters on animal production and social change in food systems
    • Updated case studies, references, websites, and new research
    • Emphasis on how climate change impacts agriculture
    • Greater focus on health issues related to food

    The book begins with a focus on the key ecological factors and resources that impact agricultural plants and animals as individual organisms. It then examines all of the components of agroecosystem complexity, from genetics to landscapes and explores the transition process for achieving sustainability and indicators of progress. The book then delves into power and control of food systems by agribusiness, and the need to develop a new paradigm that moves beyond production and explores issues of food justice, equity, food security and sovereignty. The book concludes with a call to action so that research and education can link together for transformative change in our food systems.

    Groundbreaking in its first edition, respected in its second edition, this third edition of this standard textbook has evolved along with the field. Written by an expert with more than 40 years of experience, the third edition begins with a strong ecological foundation for farming practices and ends with all of us thinking about the critical importance of transitioning to a new paradigm for food and agriculture, and what this means for our future.


    "Agroecology may be an unfamiliar concept to some, since our culture often treats agriculture and ecology as completely separate subjects, with common agricultural practices bearing no resemblance to the natural patterns that ecologists study. However, if one is not familiar with all of the factors that can affect food production, it can be hard to recognize adaptive responses to those factors. Fortunately, this textbook provides an excellent broad introduction to the subject. The book is well-written and contains many helpful figures and tables. Since the book is quite affordable, for a large volume from CRC Press, it is also ideal for individual reading by any ethnobotanist who could use a refresher course on the basics of ecology or sustainable agriculture."

    —Wendy L. Applequist, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, in Economic Botany

    Praise for the Second Edition:

    "It is clear, insightful, well-illustrated and referenced, and the 21 chapters contain many useful case studies. It deserves to be in every library, and is a pleasure to read. This is a valuable manual, and vital for all concerned with learning and teaching in agricultural courses. It deserves to be widely used."

    —Jules Pretty OBE, Experimental Agriculture, Vol. 43 (4),2007

    "The author clearly is an authority in the field of agro-ecology and teaches on the subject. … Agronomists and biologists, as well as general scholars and people interested by sustainability as an attitude or life style wi11learn about how to put principles into (cropping and whole food chain) practice. All in all: a good read!"

    —Patrick Van Damme, University of Gent, Economic Botany, 63 (4),2009

    Table of Contents

    Introduction to Agroecology

    Case for Fundamental Change in Agriculture

    Agroecology and the Agroecosystem Concept

    Plants and Abiotic Factors of the Environment

    The Plant



    Humidity and Rainfall



    Water in the Soil


    A More Complete Autecological Perspective

    Biotic Factors

    The Environmental Complex

    Heterotrophic Organisms

    System-Level Interactions

    Population Ecology of Agroecosystems

    Genetic Resources in Agroecosystems

    Species Interactions in Crop Communities

    Agroecosystem Diversity

    Disturbance, Succession, and Agroecosystem Management

    Animals in Agroecosystems

    Energetics of Agroecosystems

    Landscape Diversity

    The Transition to Sustainability

    Converting to Ecologically Based Management

    Indicators of Sustainability

    Bringing about a Sustainable World Food System

    Agriculture, Society, and Agroecology

    Community and Culture in the Remaking of the Food System

    From Sustainable Agroecosystems to a Sustainable Food System




    Subject Categories

    BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
    NATURE / Ecology
    TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / General
    TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / Forestry