Verbose: ‘Food Ark’

‘Food Ark’ was written by Charles Siebert and was published in National Geographic in July 2011


  • Title: ‘ark’ as in Noah’s ark, vessel for safety? Way to salvation?
  • I have argued that there is actually enough food in the world to feed everyone without resorting to GMO food and that if we managed the distribution properly, everyone would be able to eat to satisfaction (not greed). I want to see if I have that opinion to unlearn.
  • Thinking laterally about what we eat – look at other varieties
  • “devoted to collecting rather than growing seeds” – demand and supply?
  • Bequeathed = given, handed down
  • “prized by a food movement that emphasizes eating locally and preserving the flavour and uniqueness of heirloom varieties” – when I see ‘food movement’, I think of a fad, not necessarily a revolution.
  • “most of us in the well-fed world give little thought to where our food comes from or how it’s grown” – so simply put, but it points to a big problem
  • “very little is said or done about the parallel erosion in the genetic diversity of the food we eat” – at first glance this phrase seems quite unimportant to me. Why is it so important to have diversity? As long as we are getting the nutrients, right? I am assuming that this decreases the risk of certain foods running out.
    • Okay, they specifically say why this is a problem. “If disease or future climate change decimates one of the handful of plants and animals we’ve come to depend on, we might desperately need one of those varieties we’ve let go extinct’
    • I actually really like the way this dilemma is presented – where you’ve got to think/scoff first and then the reasoning is presented afterwards
  • “the world has become increasingly dependent upon technology driven, one-size-fits-all solutions to its problems. Yet the best hope for securing food’s future may depend on our ability to preserve the locally cultivated foods of the past” – I could be wrong, but this means Charles is not particularly pro-GMO right? Or am I just looking for an opportunity to be right?
  • “It took more than 10 000 years of domestication for humans to create the vast biodiversity in our food supply that we’re now watching ebb way”, “painstakingly developed livestock” – this comes across as a bit too dramatic. He seems like someone who would pine over his ex-lover for years. It sucks, but let it go, dude.
  • I did not know that introducing GMO was called the green revolution. That’s very interesting.
  • Okay, so what I’ve gotten so far is that if we produce GMO food in maximum yields, we produce fewer varieties of breeds – which gives us a risk of putting us in food shortages in the future.
  • This infographic is such a potent way of showing the decline of these crops.


  • It’s also really interesting that local farmers have put themselves in debt in trying to keep up with the new agricultural demands. That addict simile is a little lost on me, though – “they are like addicts, hooked on a habit they can ill afford in either economic and ecological terms”.
  • Stalin deemed a Russian botanist’s efforts to conserve many species of seeds as “bourgeois science” and put him in a concentration camp???
  • Bourgeois = conformist, conventional
  • Also, Hitler hoped to one day control the world’s food supply. Jesus.
  • “doomsday vault” – I get that this a serious topic that could help so many people, but I feel like he does not need to use these sensationalist phrases to make his point
  • I love how he draws attention to how smart farmers are and how intricate their work is – I feel like farmers are seriously underappreciated.
  • “Contextualise it” – a farmer explains why he isn’t completely against science. I LOVE this. It allows a middle ground between the two sides of the argument.
  • I really like that the author gave this face by speaking to a family who has been affected by this. When people attach real characters with names and experiences to problems, I definitely think they pay more attention – the problem is less abstract that way. I think Siebert made a good call by leaving it to the end, as that would be what the reader is left thinking with, not a pile of statistics.
  • I really appreciate the continuous photos of a variety of species of animals and seeds. It’s like constantly (subtly) making your point.



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