By 2050 we’ll need to feed two billion more people. How can we do that without overwhelming the planet?
When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet. The environmental challenges raised by agriculture are huge, and they’ll only become more pressing as we try to meet the growing need for food worldwide. Sheer population growth isn’t the only reason we’ll need more food. The spread of prosperity across the world is driving an increased demand for meat, eggs and dairy. These products contribute the most to global warming.
The world population and prosperity will grow. How can we help feeding more people with limited amount of space? The answer is sustainable eating. Sustainable eating is about choosing foods that are healthful to our environment and our bodies.
10 tips for eating more sustainable:
- Eat less
Don’t eat more than your body needs. This sounds very easy, however still 30% of the world’s population is either obese or overweight.
- Eat seasonally
Blueberries don’t grow in the Netherlands during January, yet you can still buy them fresh at in the supermarket. This means they’re likely to come from far away. When possible, focus on foods that are available in the season where you live. An easy way to support sustainability. You can check this easily by looking at the origin of fruits and vegetables. This is usually noted down on the label or price tag.
- Prioritize plants and minimize meat
The Healthy Eating Plate suggests filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits as part of an optimal diet. Moreover, shifting to a more plant based way of eating will benefit the planet as well. It will reduce fresh water withdrawals, deforestations, and greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, try to limit your beef consumption because beef production results in more climate-warming emissions than chicken or pork. Some other alternatives are fish or non-meat proteins such as nuts and legumes.
- Choose sustainable fish
Eating fish is sustainable if it comes from a fishery with practices that can be maintained indefinitely without reducing the target species ability to maintain its population and impacting the ecosystem of other species. Some species that are at risk of being overfished or produced in ways that harm the marine environment are: Atlantic Salmon, Atlantic cod, or Tuna. Consciously choose your go to variety of fish.
- Cook sustainable
Some tips to save energy while cooking: cook in a smaller pan with a lid, cook on low or medium gas or use the microwave to heat meals since its faster than an oven. Defrost food in the refrigerator, it saves refrigerator energy and heating energy.
- Drink water
Drink tap water and/or tea or coffee. Liquids are some of the heaviest items to transport so lots of fossil fuel is needed to tote them. Moreover, alcohol and soft drinks need a lot of energy to be produced. If you drink tap water you save several natural resources that would go to transportation, storage and packing.
- Shop locally
Buy foods at local farmers markets. You will contribute to buying products that are produced in your own country.
- Be aware of trading stamps
A lot of products have a trading stamp that indicates that they are for example locally produced, organic, or that they keep the welfare of the animals in mind. Some suggestions of trading stamps to consider when buying food:Milieu: EKO, Europian organic stamp, “Milieukeur”, “Erkend Streekproduct”.
Animal welfare: free-range eggs, Label Rouge, France Limousin, “Beter Leven” .
Labour welfare : Fairtrade-Max Havelaar, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified.
- Reduce food waste
Planning, prepping and storing food can help you waste less food. If you make a list of groceries you need, you buy no more than you expect to use. This will make it more likely to keep it fresh and use it all. Moreover, store fruit and vegetables in the right way for maximum freshness. Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to make meals later in the week, which saves you time and effort. Lastly be mindful of old ingredients and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and save money at the same time.
- Grow your own food
It could be herbs or tomatoes in a pot. This will not only contribute to eating locally, it will also help you understand the multitude of factors involved in growing food. Those insights will likely influence how you buy, use and dispose food.
Sustainable eating is what you do in your kitchen, what food choices you make and how you intentionally eat 365 days a year. Addressing our global food challenges demand all of us to become more thoughtful about the food we put on our plates. The choices we make will help decide the future.