Cuba has a lot to teach us about sustainable food production, food security and resilience, says Libby McCann, core faculty and environmental education director in the Department of Environmental Studies.
After Communism collapsed in the early 1990s, Cuba, reliant upon the Soviet Union for subsidies and isolated by the United States’ embargo dating back to the 1960s, could no longer support large-scale agriculture. Without such imports as oil and pesticides, it had to find a more innovative approach to growing food for its people.
“Cuba has become a fascinating study of how countries may, or may not, respond to future ‘peak oil’ circumstances resulting from climate change,” said McCann, who will teach a class called Food System of Cuba: Implications for Environment, Livelihood and Food Security this fall. She is co-teaching the course with AUNE alumna Jessica Sanford, MS ’11.
Libby traveled to Cuba this summer to prepare for the course, which will include a ten-day field study trip to the island nation in January 2013 to visit farms, urban gardens, agricultural universities, and cultural aspects of Cuban life and food system.
McCann’s trip was through Global Exchange, an international human rights organization which will also organize the in-country field study trip. While in Cuba, she visited several UNESCO bioreserves, a community arts project, and farms. “The people, culture and natural environment are so incredible, filled with contradictions, vibrancy and resilience,” she said.