I bet that you’ve never looked at an apple in the grocery store and thought about “How many resources were used to produce the apple?” It’s the thing that is the furthest from people’s minds when they are choosing their food. In fact, most people choose their food based on cosmetic appeal. What’s more worrying is that a percentage of these people throw the food away. If you have never thought about the environmental impact of food production, it is time to start now.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food consumption accounts for 28% of the world’s ecological footprint and most people contribute towards it without knowing it. Some of the major impacts include the following.
Carbon Emissions Caused by Transporting Food
Most of the food that people purchase isn't local. In fact, a lot of the food is sourced from farms thousands of miles away and has been transported by gas guzzling trucks, boats or planes.
Methane Gas From Meat Production
Meat production is problematic because of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from animals during their lifetime. For example, one cow will usually emit five kilograms of methane gas through burping during its lifetime.
Most people don’t know how much water has been used to produce food. For example, 41 liters of water is used to produce broccoli. One serving of chicken has consumed 1250 liters of water and a serving of steak has consumed 4660 liters of water.
What are some solutions to this?
1. Eating or even producing your own locally produced food, you will be making a positive influence on the environment. People can grow their own produce at home with eco-efficient systems. The video below shows how you can create a small food garden for your home that uses eco-friendly drip irrigation.
2. People can also reduce their consumption of meat or even consider becoming vegetarian or vegan.
People Need to Improve Their ‘Food Wasting Habits’
The average household throws away $1,036 worth of food every year. This equates to 4 million tonnes of food ending up as landfill at a cost of $8 billion a year. Food waste usually occurs because of the following reasons.
- Food is thrown out before its used-by date.
- Leftovers aren’t used.
- People buy takeaway instead of using the food they have at home.
- People cook too much food.
Food waste contributes to methane gas emissions as well as the energy and water resources that were used to produce the food.
How can people improve their habits?
Minimizing food wastage starts with people’s shopping habits. Usually, poor planning causes people to purchase too much food that inevitably ends up being thrown away. People should:
- Create a shopping list that details the items they need.
- Check the food’s used-by date before purchasing.
- Purchase in quantities that will be used.
- Purchase long-life options such as canned vegetables, which will make it easy to prepare a quick meal.
Store Your Food Correctly
You can improve the freshness and shelf-life of your food by:
- Storing dry ingredients like flour, rice or sugar in airtight jars (like jam jars).
- Remove vegetables from plastic bags to avoid having them sweat and spoil.
- Refrigerate raw meat immediately to avoid having it spoil.
- Freeze any leftover food from meals, meats, fruits or vegetables to consume at a later date.
Cook What You Need
Another reason so much waste occurs is because people’s meal portions are too large. Most people feel like they need large portions to satisfy their food cravings. Rather than cooking too much, people should aim to cook what they need.
Another way to improve portion sizes is by learning how to prepare meals portions that provide the right energy and nutritional requirements.
Use Leftovers in Other Meals
Rather than scraping your leftover food in the bin, save it for another meal.
Simply store the leftovers in the fridge or freezer and use them in another meal. If people have pets, the leftovers can be given to them as a meal.
Another thing you should also consider is the packaging that goes into food production. Try to avoid purchasing food produce that uses packaging that is unfriendly to the environment.
The facts that have been presented are alarming, however it is easy to make a difference. The next time you decide to purchase food, consider the environmental impact and adopt an eco-savvy approach to help minimize the negative impact on the environment.