We live in confusing times! Food resources are stretched to the limit and for the ethical consumer, it can be difficult to make sustainable, healthy and practical choices.
How is it possible to consider animal welfare, food waste, human welfare, land erosion, unsustainable practices, deforestation and so on when choosing food? It can be so complicated and difficult to gather all the information together to enable us to make the right choice.
To make your choice easier, One Brown Planet has created a directory of tools and information you can use to help make these important decisions.
7.5 billion people consume 1.6 times what the earth’s natural resources can supply. Consider the following facts;
- Wildlife has declined by 58% in the last 40 years (Source: Sustainable Living Index)
- Water consumption for food represents around 69% of all available freshwater (Source: FAO)
- Of our available land, over 30% is currently used for food. The remainder is required for habitation by human and animals. Considering that vast area’s of unusable land exist, such as deserts and frozen tundra, only around 15% of land is available for additional food production.
- Of all the food we make today, over 1/3 is wasted (Source: FAO)
By 2050, if the world’s population reaches 9 billion, the demand for food will double! The maths don’t add up.
We don’t have a food problem. We have an efficiency problem.
By making a more informed decision about the food we eat we can reduce, quite dramatically, the resources required to feed us. By following 3 simple rules we can ensure that our consumption of food is sustainable.
- Food Waste – Reduce the amount of food we waste
- Location – Think about where our food comes from and the impact it will have
- Sustainable – Choose food that is more sustainable
The next few tabs will help provide more detail on how to do this.
How Much Food Waste?
These statistics on food waste paint a dramatic picture. More responsible farming practices are urgently needed and the best way to make this happen is to buy sustainably and reduce food waste at home. If we work together we can make a dramatic difference to this global problem.
This video from Australia discusses problems that apply to all the Countries in the world. In it, they talk about the origins of our food and how important your choice is when you go shopping.
For most people the closest they get to understanding where their food comes from is their local supermarket.
Farming too is a foreign concept to most – something we drive past on our way to another capital city or see on TV when a farmer wants a wife.
And let’s be honest, who actually reads the label or cares where it’s from – as long as the shelves stay stocked.
If we’re so removed from the process, continue to blindly assume that fresh produce and ingredients will turn up at our local supermarket forever, and reserve the right to complain about the cost of a litre of milk or loaf of bread – the impact of climate change on farming and our food supply seems an abstract concept for most. Really, how much would things change?
Appetite for Change
In this 22 minute documentary from Earth Hour, titled ‘Appetite for Change’, Australian celebrity chef and former cattle farmer, Lynton Tapp, will meet some naïve Aussies, innocently shopping at their local supermarket. He’ll analyse their shopping trolleys to open their eyes, hearts and minds to the imminent results of climate change, not only to farmers, communities and produce but how it will affect things closer to home and their own way of life.
Lynton will go on a journey of discovery to meet the farmers and families who are at the frontline of our food supply chain and we’ll watch him whip up some delicious meals using the farmers’ local produce. Together, with some of the world’s leading scientists, we’ll discover just how much our lives will change and the devastating effect it will have not only on our way of life, communities and loved ones, but the planet as well.
Perhaps the easiest thing we can do is reduce the amount of food you waste. These tips are not only easy but they will save you money as well. Below are some tips from the WWF to help minimise the amount of food waste every week.
Most of all, it is important to realise that if you have any food waste during the week then you have an opportunity to improve. Zero food waste is not only achievable but necessary if we are to help take the strain of our planet’s resources.
- Food Composting – Bukashi
Fish stocks are collapsing all over the world. However, fish are a great source of protein and essentials oils and vital to the diets of billions of people. To help you make the right decision as to which type of fish to eat, have a look at our list below. You should aim to select only fish that are caught or breed sustainably.
- Australia: Sustainable Seafood Guide
- Australia Canned Tuna: Greenpeace
- United Kingdom: Marine Conservation Society
- USA: EDF Seafood Selector
- Rest of the World: WWF (Link to PDFs)
The increasing consumption of meat is causing significant issues for the planet.
- 50% of global deforestation is now attributable to land clearing for grazing
- 18% of global emissions are caused by livestock
The simple fact is, the less meat you eat, the better the planet.
For many people, it is uncomfortable to discover how damaging to the environment our diets can be. Whilst food waste is a major concern, the choice of what we eat also makes a big difference. Changing your diet to include less meat from grazing animals is a big step in the right direction. Why not try vegetarian days too and keep on reducing your meat consumption as far as you can.
What Food Labels Really Mean
Did you know that food labels are sometimes misleading on purpose?
It is correct that there are regulations which determine what should go on the food label. However, manufacturers are able to use wording that may sometimes confuse you. Check out this great Infographic from Happy Cleans which highlights some of the more popular terminology used in the USA.
Printed with permission: Happy Cleans
6 More Ways to Help
It is not easy to eat sustainably but it can be done with some practice and a bit of hard work. Below is a list of 6 general guidelines you can use when you are unsure about what to do.
- Know who makes your food – Not all things are created equally and knowing who produces your food has a big impact on how sustainable it is.
- Sustainable Plam Oil Guide – Rainforest Foundation
- Australian Ethical Food Guide – Ethical.org
- USA Ethical Food Guide – Ethical Consumer
- Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables – These require fewer resources to grow and store
- Consume less packaged or processed foods – Fresh food is much healthier and more sustainable
- Drink less bottled water (Or anything) – When possible always use tap water. It is simple to add a filter if required.
- Buy local – Your produce will be freshest when bought locally and require less transportation which typically means less food waste.
- Look for Organic Foods – Fewer chemicals on your food means a healthier planet
And here is a more detailed list of things to look out for when you go shopping
- Alternative Farming/Alternative Agriculture
- Best Management Practices (BMPs)
- Biodynamic Agriculture/Biodynamic Farming
- Biointensive Gardening/Mini-farming
- Biological Farming/Ecological Farming
- Carbon Sequestration
- Carrying Capacity
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
- Conservation Buffer Strips
- Conservation Tillage
- Ecological Footprint (EF)
- Carbon footprint
- Environmental Indicators
- agri-environmental indicator
- Externalities (Agricultural)
- Farmland Preservation/Protection
- Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)
- Grass Farming/ Grass-based Farming
- Holistic Management
- Integrated Farming Systems (IFS)/Integrated Food and Farming Systems (IFFS)
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
- Biointensive IPM
- Biological Control/Bio-control
- Intensive/Controlled Grazing Systems
- Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
- Local/Community Food System
- Food Shed, Food Circle, Food Miles
- Low Input Agriculture
- Natural Farming
- Nature Farming
- Nutrient Management
- Organic Farming
- Precision Farming/Agriculture
- Regenerative Agriculture
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program (USDA)
- Sustainable Development
- Whole Farm Planning