Inspirations: Our Hardest Workers (Biodiversity)

As part of an ongoing effort to encourage further exploration of the topics raised in In Layman’s Terms, we will be updating posts with the inspirations for the pieces found within the issues. Check back frequently for more inspirations!

You can read “The Price of Cars and Pollinators” by Yvette Schnoeker-Shorb and “Saffron” by Ed Meek in Volume 1: Biodiversity.

A Most Expensive Spice

Saffron has an interesting history and is labor-intensive. Did you know that “where you may get several tons of corn from an acre of land, you will only get about 2 pounds of saffron”? It’s no wonder the spice is so expensive, sometimes selling for up to $10,000 per pound.

As it turns out, there are actually several crops that are hand-harvested, including vanilla and cacao.

Problems for Pollinators

Humans aren’t the only ones putting in long days on the farm. Pollinators play a vital role in ecosystem function as well as our own agricultural systems. As Penn State’s College of Agriculture states, “Without pollinators, our diets would be severely limited, and it would be more difficult to acquire the variety of vitamins and minerals that we need to stay healthy.”

Many pollinators face challenges brought on by the very same agricultural systems they assist. Of course, we mostly hear about the European honeybee, but did you know that there are actually around 20,000 species of bees? As Henry Nicholls at the BBC states, our obsession with the European bumblebee is “the perfect example of our ruthlessly human-centric, overtly practical view of the natural world.” If you’d like to learn a little more about different categories of bees, check out the University of Minnesota’s Bee Lab page.

How can we help ourselves, without further harming other species that we ultimately depend on? Intercropping provides one example of an alternative to heavy pesticide use. You can also help pollinators with your own gardening practices at home.

Do you have more to add? Insights into how these discoveries or people have influenced the world and people that inhabit it? We’d love to hear your comments below!

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