Have you ever considered the environmental effects of the food you buy? The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warns that with current trends, global food production will need to increase by 70 percent by 2050. Yet, over one-third of the food produced across the globe is not eaten. Changing habits can have a big impact on food sustainability and the environment.
Organic farming methods for both crops and animals have a much lower impact on the environment than conventional methods. Organic farms rely on natural manure and compost for fertilizer. Antibiotics and growth hormones may not be used to raise food animals. Studies have shown that chemical farming uses more energy per unit of production than organic farms.
Growing vegetables at home eliminates some of the transport required to get food to your table. About 11 percent of greenhouse emissions involved in food production are linked to food transportation. Great produce can be grown in a backyard or in the smallest of spaces such as a balcony. Try growing potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, and other veggies - without chemicals.
Buying food that's grown closer to home should be fresher and supports local farmers. Food at a nearby market will also have fewer transportation emissions associated with it. The average meal travels 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) from the farm to plate. As the distance food travels decreases, so does the need for processing and refrigeration to reduce spoilage.
Before dining out, ask yourself: Can I make this myself? To cut down on the amount of food thrown away, consider cooking a fresh meal from home. Plan meals ahead to reduce waste or save your leftovers and create new meals out of them. Food that's fit for consumption is discarded every day.
In developed countries, large quantities of food go to waste due to an over-emphasis on appearance at the retail level. Also, consumers in these countries tend to buy more food than they need. Every year developed countries waste more than 220 million tons of food. Per capita waste by consumers ranges between 95 and 115 kilograms (209-254 pounds) per year in Europe and North America.
When people throw away food, all the resources to grow, process and transport it get chucked right into landfills. Waste that ends up in landfills decomposes without oxygen and produces methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Wasting less is an important step you can take to mitigating climate change.
A gardener has five million "employees" to turn organic waste into nutrient-rich compost. The frugal workers are humus worms, which eat scraps and other waste. But these little guys can't do all the hard work. Help by putting all organic waste in a compost. Garbage from a person's home is about 40 percent organic waste - composting keeps all that garbage out of landfills.
The carbon footprint of food, or foodprint, reflects the greenhouse gas emissions of the food you eat.