When it comes to what we eat, it is clear that our choices have a significant impact on the future or our planet. An IPCC report published in August 2019 by United Nations scientists said that eating less meat, reducing food waste, and reforming agriculture could slash global emissions benefiting both our health and the environment. Worrying that meat production is on an “unstoppable trajectory to become the single greatest contributor to climate change,” the Lancet Report called for guidelines “doubling global consumption of fruits, nuts, vegetables and legumes, and cutting the consumption of red meat in half.” Currently, 47.6% of our greenhouse gases come from meat.
The second, often unconsidered source of global emissions, is food waste. As 1 in 8 Americans struggle to put food on the table, over 40 percent of the food in the United States is never eaten. An enormous amount of resources and energy goes into growing, processing, transporting, and eventually disposing of all that wasted food. That includes, reports the NRDC, the climate-wrecking greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of the food system, plus water, fertilizer, packaging, labor, and more.
It’s clearly time for us to take a look at our diets. You might want to start by taking this quiz.
- eat seasonally, eliminating the distance what you eat has to travel
- think mindfully about what you buy so as to waste less
- consider the packaging of your food. Time to bring your own refillable coffee thermos and water bottles, your own food containers that can be washed and reused after lunch at the office, and your own bags to the grocery store
- reduce your consumption of meat and lamb, increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and nuts
These simple transformations cannot come fast enough. As we become more aware of the complex issues in our food system, we must each find our own way to reduce our carbon footprint and re-establish our connection with food.
Whatever your path may be, this section is designed to help you understand the food revolution taking place and how to contribute to building a healthy and sustainable future through personal choices. There’s no doubt that we need to take collective action against climate change as citizens, but examining our kitchens is equally important — and a great place to start the sustainability journey.
Hershey’s deforestation policy cracks down on cocoa suppliers while honing in on chocolate’s carbon emissions
Consumer Resources to Support Sustainable Seafood from the Seafood Watch Program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium