Food Production & Consumption Impacts our environment, which accounts for almost one-third of our global carbon footprint. Though this Food is marked as good and healthy only when it is sourced and consumed responsibly. However, both food production and consumption have started laying considerable impacts on our environment.
So, here’s the big question – “are we destroying the environment or is the environment destroying us?”
How is food production & environment degradation co-related?
When we look at what we eat and how it is grown, it has been found that there is numerous evidence of damage to both food (such as pollution and soil depletion) and our environment (toxins emitted from food industries).
Food production hampers the environment in many ways including climate change, acid rain, depletion of biodiversity and so on. Environmental factors such as soil, energy, climate, water, etc. act as a burden on food production.
Baltic Sea is a perfect example of environmental degradation due to human activities, as half of the total amount of phosphorus and nitrogen found in it is due to agriculture.
Carbon footprint – farm to your platter
It is not a secret that every agriculture activity – whether direct or allied – generates carbon emissions right from the farm to your platter.
Farm inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers, fuel and energy used in irrigation, along with machinery for cultivation, harvesting, and processing involves the production of greenhouse gases. Also, transportation and refrigeration at the regional distribution center contribute to the negative impacts on our environment.
On the other hand, while red meat is the most emissions-intensive food, vegetables produce negligible amounts of greenhouse gases. For instance, for every 50 onions grown, a kilogram of greenhouse gas is produced, whereas it takes only 44 grams of beef to produce the same amount of carbon emissions.
How is the environment consequently impacting our food chain?
A combination of factors such as the depletion of nutrients in the soil due to monoculture and the use of fertilizers impact the food quality significantly.
The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) reports that there has been a sharp decline of nutrients in our food such as vitamin C by 20%, iron by 15%, riboflavin by 38%, and calcium by 16%. Due to which, we are now surviving on less nutrition per calorie of food that we consume. Simply put, we need to eat more food to get the same amounts of essential vitamins, calcium, and other minerals.
How to lessen the impact?
It is becoming important to have a different perspective on food as the various impacts associated with every stage of food production. People should be more conscious while diet planning, grocery shopping, and cooking, as these activities, can significantly minimize carbon footprint.
The differences in culinary requirements and dietary habits suggest that beef cannot replace onions. However, it’s still possible to substitute beef, mutton, and pork with poultry and seafood. Better yet, plant-based proteins like legumes, lentils, and nuts should opt as they have a lower impact on the environment.
Reducing carbon footprints is essential more than ever before, and for that, changes in our diet can prolong our survival on the planet.