In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, there are ways for us to connect, both as a local community and right across the globe. In honour of EarthDay2020, I want to talk about the food we eat and the impact it has on our climate. Much like clean water and air, food is necessary for our survival. However, an inept global food system has weakened our ability to access adequate quantities of nutritious food.
The food system is a major contributor to the deterioration of our environment around the world. It contributes 21% to 37% of global greenhouse gases and significantly contributes to climate change through deforestation, pollution, and food waste. This system also exacerbates inequality issues surrounding hunger and nutrition.
One of the biggest problems, perhaps, is livestock. Forests around the world are burned down to clear land for livestock and crops to feed them. As we dedicate more land to livestock, the cropland becomes less fertile which means there are fewer crops to grow food for human consumption. As a result, the global hunger crisis is upon us.
Livestock production uses a third of global cropland and accounts for an estimated 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, a recent New Yorker article noted that “[every] 4lbs of beef you eat contributes to as much global warming as flying from New York to London – and the average American eats that much each month.”
Clearing forested land destroys vital efforts to capture and secure storage of carbon that would otherwise be emitted to/remain in the atmosphere. These problems are all made worse by food waste. The worldwide production of food causes tremendous wastage through processing, transportation, and consumption. As food waste breaks down, it releases carbon dioxide and methane which drive climate change. As climate change progresses, extreme weather events, such as drought and flooding, will continue to weaken an already fragile system.
Although these facts are grim, there are ways that we, as a community, can help. A few things to think about going forward:
- Adopt a more plant-based diet. Perhaps you can advocate for #MeatlessMonday.
- Buy food locally. This has a huge impact on an individual’s Foodprint.
- Advocate for climate change action in your local community.
- Inform others about the connection between the food system and climate change.
So, in honour of EarthDay2020 and in an effort to drive change, I commit to eating more plant-based foods and reducing food waste by composting. What will you do to drive change? Will you join in encouraging others to reduce their Foodprint and becoming advocates of change?