Can Tomatoes Save the World?

Image by: Thelonious Gonzo

I’m beginning to work on the term paper for my summer school class “Global Climate Change: The Science, Social Impact, and Diplomacy of a World Environmental Crisis” and thought I’d share my working concept to the good people of the internet for a little vetting/research suggestions.  The working concept is to measure  either the Greenhouse Gas or water (Possibly both) impacts of tomato gardening in comparison to that of industrial farming.  The goal would be to measure the opportunity for reducing impact via production and transport.  To measure the opportunity, I would have to find the difference in inputs between an industrial farm and that of an organic home farm.  I would also need to determine the difference in GHGs produced by the two methods.

The initial thought might be that the home gardening scenario would mitigate all transport, but that would necessitate having all inputs either being available on site, or within reasonable distance for walking, bicycling, or some other non-motorized transport.

So, please take your best shot at the concept.  Do you think it has merit, or am I off the reservation again?

Image by: fox_kiyo

Potential Research Items:

I’ve ordered the new book “Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit” by Barry Estabrook and am starting to work through the following resources:

As you can see this is my highly non-private beginning to my paper.  I’m certainly not looking to have my work done for me, but if an interesting question comes to mind, I’d love to see how it might fit in with my research.
As always, thanks for stopping by!
-Chris
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2 thoughts on “Can Tomatoes Save the World?

  1. Hi,
    Kudos for taking this on. It is certainly a topic that creates a lot of interest.
    A few things that may be helpful:
    – Try to wipe your assumptions before seeing the numbers.
    – When you do see numbers, make sure to be critical of their process/criteria and perform a thought-experiment to bring their conclusions to the macro – would said ideas still work on a global scale?

    An article discussing this topic – I left a lengthy comment there with good links:
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/06/edward-glaeser-phones-in-old-arguments-local-food.php?campaign=th_rss

    I also recommend reading some of the food articles by Joe Romm on thinkprogress.org
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/06/18/247639/agriculture-yields-co2emissions/#more-247639

    Hope this helps!
    Tim

  2. Tim,
    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. It’s greatly appreciated!
    Your suggestions are noted and I will check out the resources you suggested.
    Keep an eye out for the finished product next month.
    Thank you,
    Chris

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