Environment and Food

By Colin Sage

© 2011 – Routledge

320 pages | 32 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415363129
pub: 2011-07-07
Hardback: 9780415363112
pub: 2011-07-07

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

This timely book provides a thorough introduction to the inter-relationship of food and the environment. Its primary purpose is to bring to our attention the multiplicity of linkages and interconnections between what we eat and how this impacts on the earth’s resources. Having a better idea of the consequences of our food choices might encourage us to develop more sustainable practices of production and consumption in the decades ahead.

Although human societies have, over time, brought under control a large proportion of the earth’s resources for the purpose of food production, we remain subject to the effective functioning of global ecosystem services. The author highlights the vital importance of these services and explains why we should be concerned about the depletion of freshwater resources, soil fertility decline and loss of biological diversity. The book also tackles some of the enormous challenges of our era: climate change – to which the agri-food system is both a major contributor and a vulnerable sector – and the prospect of significantly higher energy prices, arising from the peaking of oil and gas supplies which will reveal how dependent the food system has become upon cheap fossil fuels. Such challenges are likely to have significant implications for the long-term functioning of global supply chains and raise profound questions regarding the nutritional security of the world’s population. Taken together the book argues that a re-examination of the assumptions and practices underpinning the contemporary food system is urgently required.

Environment and Food is a highly original, inter-disciplinary and accessible text that will be of interest to students and the wider public genuinely interested in and concerned by the state of the world’s food provisioning system. It is richly illustrated with figures and makes extensive use of boxes to highlight relevant examples.


"A fine, wise and extraordinarily timely book that addresses agricultural and food systems worldwide from field to plate, and shows how precisely they can become more sustainable and healthy." Professor Jules Pretty OBE, University of Essex, UK.

"Environment and Food is an extraordinarily accessible and comprehensive account of the ecological consequences of our agri-food systems. Colin Sage offers a timely and thoughtful guide to rethinking the relationship between food and ecology in an age of rising social and environmental uncertainty." Professor Philip McMichael, Cornell University, USA.

"Although written as a textbook, this is a highly accessible and comprehensive account of the relationship between environment and food, both now and potentially in the future. The overall agenda has to be the creation of a sustainable food system, which the current agri-industry model is certainly not, especially when tied in with the global food industry and its pursuit of profit at the expense of the health of their customers." David Lorimer, Network Review

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Why Environment and Food? 2. The Global Agri-Food System 3. The Ecological Basis of Primary Food Production 4. Global Challenges for Food Production 5. Final Foods: Transformation, Transportation and Waste 6. Food Security: Issues and Challenges 7. Towards A Sustainable Agri-Food System 8. Conclusions

About the Author

Colin Sage is Senior Lecturer in Geography at University College Cork, Republic of Ireland.

About the Series

Routledge Introductions to Environment: Environment and Society Texts

This series introduces core topics for environmental study and presents unparalleled interdisciplinary perspectives on issues of environmental concern. Focusing on human-environmental interrelationships, these concise, engaging, user-friendly texts respond particularly well to the demands of modular learning. Each text in the series features:

  • summaries of key concepts and contextual introductions to each topic
  • uniform, attractive, series design
  • informative diagrams illustrating key concepts and issues
  • annotated reading lists and end of chapter questions
  • lively global case-studies boxed throughout the text.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography