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Students use their ecological knowledge of soil processes, energy, water systems, and human interactions to compare the environmental impact of food production. Each group of 3-4 students develop life cycle analyses (LCA) for a single crop grown under different scenarios. As individuals, students are responsible for developing two LCA for that crop, and then together in their groups, they compile those LCA to assess which combination of growing method and location is most green if you are purchasing this product at the location of our college. In their joint assessments, students justify their answer based on findings from their LCA. Through this activity, students recognize that there is not one simple answer (e.g., always buy organic) but rather, which methods are most ecologically sustainable are often dependent on the crop, the local conditions, and the impacts of both humans and the environment.
Associated files
Primary or BEN resource type
Secondary resource type
General Biology Core Concepts
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
General Biology Competencies
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords agriculture, life cycle analysis, sustainability, organic farming, soils, water, energy, nutrient cycling
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Category
Pedagogical Use Description this lesson can be a starting point for discussing a variety of ecological concepts, including nutrient cycling, water resources, and soil quality; can also be used in an applied context for discussing life cycles and human impacts. Could be taught in the context of a laboratory or more traditional class setting.
Aggregation Level
Full Name of Primary Author Tracy B. Gartner
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Carthage College
Primary Author email
Added By Id
  • tgartner
Rights Tracy B. Gartner
Review type
Drought and Water Ecosystem Services Collection Off
Conservation Targets Under Global Change Collection Off
Big Data Collection Off
Editors Choice No
Resource Status
Date Of Record Submission 2018-08-14
Date Of Record Release 2018-12-13 08:18:25
Last Modified By Id
  • tmourad
Date Last Modified 2018-12-13 08:18:25
Release Flag Published

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