The Expo Milano 2015 was the strongest factor pushing me to travel to Milan this summer. The Expo is an international event- commonly referred to as a world’s fair- occurring every few years that brings nations together to focus on a specific subject. The 2015 Expo’s theme is “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life.” In this regard, over 140 participating countries display their most advanced innovations and technologies in order to provide solutions to a pervasive and global issue: sustaining an ever-growing human population with healthy and safe nutrition while protecting the Earth and mitigating its degradation. The Expo provides visitors with the opportunity to discover and try the world’s best dishes and to learn about the traditions of each of the exhibitor countries. Throughout its 6-month duration, over 20 million visitors are expected to tour the 1.1 million square meters of exhibition.
As an Environmental Science major, this topic is very important to me. While studying in Milan I am taking a course on social innovation and strategies for environmental sustainability, which ties in perfectly with this year’s theme. Naturally I was extremely excited to visit the Expo with IES- being as the topic deals with two things at the top of my list of favorites: the environment and food.
I’m going to be completely honest and transparent with you all here: upon our arrival, the first conversation between my roommate and I regarded our plan of attack for eating throughout the day. After some careful and delicate strategizing we discerned that if we split everything, we would be able to consume the maximum amount of food. How appropriate given the world’s perception of the States!
Each pavilion is unique, displaying cultural differences among the varying nations. People from all over the world come to see the Expo, so it was very interesting to observe the mixing of cultures foreign to me whilst also in a foreign country. With regard to innovations in sustainable food production, Belgium had one of the best pavilions I was able to see (and maybe I liked it so much because of the delectable Nutella-covered Belgian waffle I had there). The pavilion had a display model on aquaponics- a method of food production that combines conventional aquaculture with hydroponics in a symbiotic environment. (Non science-geek translation: the system combines raising aquatic animals in tanks and cultivating plants in water.) In conventional aquaculture, the water becomes toxic because of the accumulation of excretions from the organisms within it. Belgium’s system is revolutionary because the water from the aquaculture tank flows into another area where bacteria break down toxic waste by-products and transform them into nutrients that can be utilized for plant growth. This clean water then flows back into the aquaculture system. This system can therefore provide fish and other aquatic organisms with a clean habitat while facilitating the growth of plants- producing sustainable fish and plants for humans to eat.
Many other nations displayed remarkable technology. Israel’s pavilion demonstrated the nation’s response to agricultural issues associated with its arid climate through pioneering drip irrigation. This technique minimizes water-use while still facilitating water-intensive crop production. Other areas like the Mexican pavilion reflected the rich biodiversity and natural resources in certain countries and emphasized the importance of environmental protection. The Expo experience is amazing because it shows people a little bit about many nations that they may not have an opportunity to visit in their lifetime, and each pavilion is beautiful and stimulating in its own right. It is absolutely magnificent to witness such a collaboration of nations with the common goal of sharing of technology and strategies to power the human population and the world. But not all about the day was as peachy as I’ve indicated- we faced some significant hardships. We couldn’t find any guac in the Mexican pavilion, so really what was the point even? (Hey it’s me again: your typical food-focused American!)
Milan- thanks for the experience and for the 10 extra lbs I gained at the Expo. Off to the gym!
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<p>I'm Madison Qualy- a swimmer at the University of Miami. Saint Louis bred me; Miami deals with me. I am a junior, double majoring in Ecosystem Science and Policy and Marine Affairs, and minoring in Spanish. I hope to attend law school and practice environmental law. I love sports, animals, and wine. Follow all the tomfoolery I get into in Milan via my posts!</p>