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      Food from country to city, waste from city to country: an environmental symbiosis? Fertiliser improvement in eighteenth-century Flanders

      Journal for the History of Environment and Society

      Brepols Publishers

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          Abstract

          Alternative approaches to resolve bottlenecks in food production often champion the reuse of urban organic waste as fertiliser in agriculture in order to close the nutrient cycle between city and country (cradle to cradle). References are often made to the past because environmental historians tend to work the use of urban wastes into a story of environmental symbiosis between city and countryside. This article argues, however, that closed nutrient cycles did not exist even in pre-industrial society, as the way in which agriculture was structured had a huge impact on the demand for manure. Starting from two agricultural regions in eighteenth-century Flanders, this research calls for more attention to regional structures of agriculture in which cities were embedded and to how these agro-systems shaped nutrient flows from the city to the country by very diverse patterns of demand for fertilisers, leading to unequal redistributive flows of nutrients from towns to different agricultural regions.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Everything Circulates: Agricultural Chemistry and Recycling Theories in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century

           E. Marald (2002)
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            Fighting the urine blindness to provide more sanitation options

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              Urban sanitation in preindustrial Japan

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                064_jour
                JHES
                jhes
                Journal for the History of Environment and Society
                Brepols Publishers
                2506-6730
                2506-6749
                January 2017
                : 2
                : 25-61
                Article
                10.1484/J.JHES.5.114102

                Open-access

                Product
                Self URI (journal page): https://www.brepolsonline.net/loi/jhes

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