Reducing our foodprint. This may sound harder than it actually is.
In our previous article, we considered what foodprint is. We saw how we are directly responsible for our own print. In other words, the impact on the environment that the production of the foods we choose to eat has, is completely on us.
When we think about reducing this impact, the task may seem daunting. But there are many simple ways to do so.
In fact, there is no need to calculate carbon emissions for every single meal we are planning. However, there is a need to be knowledgeable on the subject. And it is essential to think before we eat.
So below are some suggestions gathered from current community and national projects successfully reducing their food carbon footprint. We can easily adapt these ideas to everyday life and contribute to a worldwide, much needed change.
- Eat less meat and dairy. As seen in our previous article, meat – beef especially – and dairy drive carbon emissions to the sky. In fact, 70% of the world’s foodprint comes from animal products. True, they count for less consumer waste and less supply chain loss. But there is just no way this can make up for the damage to the environment. If you must consume animal products, opt for grass-fed meat, as the impact is a little lower than corn-fed one.
- Include a higher content of plant-based foods in your diet. The livestock industry generates more greenhouse gases than trains, planes and cars combined. Vegetable and fruit production’s carbon footprint, when seasonal, is close to zero. Take a look at the chart below for an overview of the different carbon emissions for each type of diet.
- Eat less processed food. The more processed the food, the larger its footprint. Also, consider the packaging it comes in. If the US alone would buy mostly unpackaged, fresh food, 63 million acres of trees would be spared each year.
- Only buy what you need. The US wastes about 133 billion pounds of food each year, and the EU 176 million. Before you go shopping, plan your meals. Only stick with what you need for 2/3 days tops. This may require two walks a week to your local farmer’s market or having your food delivered to your door.
- Buy local, organic and in season. Greenhouse carbon emissions are generally about 5 times higher than seasonal production emissions. And when food grows in artificial environments rather than locally, it travels more and needs long-term storage. On the other hand, organic farming reduces fossil fuel use, chemical pollution of waters and promotes biodiversity. It grows locally and has no need to travel for miles or be packaged in non-compostable materials. So head to your local farmer’s market for fresh, organic, seasonal produce. Or better yet..
- .. Grow your own food. The ultimate, best way to ensure your food is organic and fresh. Above all, its foodprint is nearly zero. Check this article out for more of the many benefits that come from growing your own food. And click here for some basic tips on how to start doing so now, whether in soil or in a container.
- World Economic Forum (WEF), 2015.
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2013.
- US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Services, 2016.
- European Commission (EC), 2015.