When it comes to the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis we can’t ignore food. How and what we farm, fish, eat and dispose of are some of the biggest contributors to climate change and the loss of nature. Industrial animal farming (also known as a factory or intensive farming), unsustainable fishing, plants grown in intensive monocultures and overly processed food have created an unsustainable and inequitable food system that is not only having a negative impact on the climate and nature but also on animal welfare, farmworkers, local communities and our health.
Food production methods, and their impact on both our climate and nature, vary from country to country and from farm to farm. There is just one consistency across the world: intensive farming and fishing practices are the main drivers of biodiversity loss on land and at sea and intensive meat production is one of the main causes of food-related carbon emissions. The global food system accounts for 21-37% of greenhouse gas emissions with meat and dairy being significant contributors.
Another major contributor to climate change is food waste; this accounts for 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste was a country it would be third behind the US and China in terms of climate emissions. 20% of food produced in the EU is wasted.
It is commonly understood that a healthy diet is needed for a healthy body and to help prevent diet-related non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer; but a healthy diet is also needed for a healthy mind.
Actions you can take
- Choose plant-based foods that are seasonal, local or Fairtrade and/or organic wherever possible. Consider using a local fruit and vegetable delivery scheme, buying from a zero-waste shop if you have one, and if not try setting up a buying group with friends to bulk buy more affordable whole foods.
- Aim to only buy the food you need and if you have surplus freeze it, give it away to someone you know, or share it via an app. Check out these tips to reduce food waste.
- Grow some of your own food: on a food growing site on campus, at your local community garden or Community Supported Agriculture farm, or just in some pots on your windowsill.
- Buy food from local independent shops such as bakeries and butchers, or directly from producers e.g. veg box schemes or food markets, instead of going to supermarkets.
- Avoid overly processed food, drinks and snacks that are commonly sold in single-use packaging and provide little nutritional value.