Another months and another course. This time I tough I will look into how food systems work and what is the currents government doing to help manage climate crises, overpopulation and growing food demands. The below notes are only a small part of what was discussed.
EAT-Lancet Commission allocated 37 professionals to carry out a research over 3 years to create a “planetary health diet” that’s healthy and sustainable for the world. If the majority of communities around the world adopt this dies we will reduce the GHG by about 60% or more depending on the region, and we will cut down premature death by 19%.
What we should eat in a day to help reduce GHG by 60%
Only a quarter of adults and 15% of young people in the UK eat 1 of their 5 a day. This is not due to lack of education but due to poor understanding and implementation of human psychology and behaviour into the marketing of healthy lifestyle. To create higher interest in healthy food consumption, government bodies, companies and their marketing strategies have to target the conscious and unconscious processes that initially tigers consumer buying behaviour.
This is already done to some extent. We see “1 of your 5 a day” sticks all over fresh food packaging and adverts. This is already a highly valued factor in our conscious derision making process, especially for those individuals that are looking for an easy answer to a healthier lifestyle. To target the unconscious decision making processed we need to start associating healthy and sustainable foods with good taste, pleasure and benefits it gives the person, rather than just say it’s good for the health and environment.
Due to constant domestication of crops and animals, the diversity of foods grown and consumed has dramatically changed and became similar over the thousands of years in human evolution. Plants like maize, rice and wheat alongside beef and poultry has become global produce, grown and eaten all over the world. With high demand in overconsumption, the farming business continues to grow, using more land and resources such as forests that are cut for farmland, water used for irrigation and animal farming. It is also common for illegal farming and hunting practices to take place where demand is not met. As a result, the GHG emissions grow, we see an increase in feed crops farming and use of water in animal agriculture, deforestation affecting the biodiversity and species extinction in the natural world and overfishing affecting entire ocean ecosystem. Local farming changes and what different communities grow truly affect the entire world when it comes to food diversities, sustainability, the animal kingdom and even culture shifts.
How we trade and the diversity of what we consume has changed. The UN has done a great job of creating the FAOSTAT (Food and Agriculture Organisation Statistics) which collect all data with regards to farming, food trading and its effect on the environment, which is available to view by anyone.
Fish consumption has become a bigger trend but the audience understanding that it is a healthier option to meat, it contains essential Omega 3 fatty acids and it’s a lean source of protein with low-fat %. The average person consumes 20kg of fish every year. Because of this demand growth of fish farming has been much higher than the growth of population itself.
We now have more agricultural fish in fish farms than what we obtain from natural sources which can only be a good thing right? This is true to some extent. We consume less fish from the rivers and seas, leaving a diverse ecosystem, but the fish from the fisheries is not necessarily healthier. Fish farmers are facing growing demand for high-quality products, but due to how the fish are kept a lot of them get sick, meaning it’s harder to meet these quality demands. I think the general public is not as aware of this subject as they are of let us say animals farming. Fish consumption affects the ecosystem, so to reduce our seafood footprint do check out the Sustainable Fish consumption guide by MCS for more insight.
How farming can be made more sustainable
By rotating what crops the farmer is growing during different seasons, this enhances resilience, guarantees a harvest and keeps the soil rich in nutrients. Allowing more biodiversity into the crops such as protecting the soil from wind erosion, or providing places for pollinators to live we increase a healthy ecosystem.
A great example of this is Agroforestry, where different species of trees are planted around grazing pastures or croplands. This again brings more diversity of animals in the area, but also help clean the air and provide nutrients into the soil. In Niger, some farmers have increased maize yields by allowing the natural regrowth of native Faidherbia trees in crop fields. The trees act not only as a fields protection from wind, soil erosion and water loss, but they also keep adding organic matter into the soil and they correct the nitrogen levels.
Some shocking fact here. Nearly a whole third of all foods produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted. That’s 1.3 billion tonnes worth of about 1 trillion USD. The land used to produce this amount of food is larger than Chine, and the GHG emissions from it are just under what whole USA and China are currently emitting. Half of our fruit and veg is wasted, along with 35% of fish and seafood, 30% cereals, 20% nuts and pulses and 20% meat and dairy. Most of these losses happen post farming either through food processing, retailer demands, and end-user. We, as end-users waste on average 95-115 kg of food annually so it is entirely up to us to decide what we can do to help this issue.
Things you could do it freeze the foods you know will go off soon but as unable to consume in time, compost, give away or just simply experiment in the kitchen. One big thing that we all can do is go through your shopping list and buy essentials that you know you will use and not waste.
- Get to know your seafood by WWF