Long-term Sustainability through Place-based, Small-scale economies, Sep 26-27

Friday, September 26, 2014

Diversity in food production, the scale of a food production system, and long-term sustainability are profoundly interconnected. The relationship between food diversity and long-term sustainability in contemporary societies has been discussed widely in various disciplinary fields. However, most of them revolve around the cost-benefit analysis of resource use in the short-term perspective, and subsequently, little research has yet been available to help us understand the prospect of food production after 2050 or 2100. The current food production system is based on intensive production and consumption, supported by large-scale monoculture with long-distance transportation. An intensive and mechanized food production system can support a larger population for a short period, but the dependence on the current system as such has caused serious environmental costs which cannot be overlooked any longer. In addition, large-scale monocultural food production is very vulnerable against climate change and natural catastrophes like earthquakes. Meanwhile, food productivity and many other things that smallholder producers offer have been underestimated both economically and socially. United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) has designated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming to support and promote small-scale economies and societies. Small-scale and diversified food production contributes to global food security, revitalization of rural and regional communities, and maintenance of bio-cultural diversity with long-term sustainability.

This symposium examines the importance of place-based, small-scale and diversified economies for the long-term sustainability of human societies and explores what needs to be done for promoting alternative food systems. Experts in archaeology, ethnology, agronomy from Japan and the United States will present their research on the past and present practice of place-based smaller-scale food production systems, for reevaluating their advantages and limitations and exploring their future potential. This symposium will also aim to discuss how contributions the archaeology of the North Pacific could make to understand the mechanisms of long-term cultural and societal changes and to mitigate environmental issues at multiple scales