Celebrate Earth Month Through Food

crate of assorted vegetables on grass

Celebrate Earth Month Through Food

Of the total land area that we as humans occupy on the earth, we dedicate half of it to agriculture production[1].  Three quarters of this land is used for raising livestock and the remainder for crops1. Interestingly however, livestock only provides 20% of the world’s supply of calories, yet occupies the greatest proportion of agricultural land.[2] Inevitably as the population continues to grow, we will need to consider not only how much we eat but what we eat. Earth Month is a great time to celebrate our beautiful planet, and also to reflect upon what we as humans can do to help preserve it. Simple changes in our diet and lifestyle can have significant positive effects on the earth. Here are ways that we can celebrate Earth Month, through food:

  1. Embrace plant-forward meals. Eating a diet that consists mainly of plants (whole grains, legumes, soy, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds) can help to reduce your carbon footprint by 55%[3]. This can easily be achieved by designing your meals to feature plant-based foods first and then use animal proteins as a garnish. Alternatively, try dedicating one day per week to a meat-free meal.
  2. Minimize your red meat consumption. Beef utilizes 20 times the amount of land and emits 20 times the amount of greenhouse gas per unit of edible protein, in comparison to plant-based counterparts such as lentils, peas and beans[4]. Switching some of your protein choices each week for a plant-based alternative can have a big environmental impact. For example try substituting half the amount of ground meat in your #tacotuesday recipe for beans or lentils.
  3. Choose locally grown foods when possible. Foods that are locally grown and in season, are not only fresher in flavour, they support your local economy. They are also more environmentally friendly as the distance the food travels from farm to plate is lessened, reducing transportation emissions and energy usage for storage and processing[5]. Check out what’s in season.
  4. Opt for sustainable seafood choices. 31% of the world’s fish stocks are fished at an unsustainable level[6]. Choosing sustainably sourced fish and seafood promotes a more viable supply. Visit Ocean Wise to learn more about sustainable seafood options.

If we really want to make an impact this Earth Month, we can all take part in Stop Food Waste Day on April 27th. Stop Food Waste Day brings awareness to the issue of food waste across the globe and what we can do to help stop it. It is estimated that 1/3 of the world’s food that is produced every year is wasted[7], and in Canada the annual cost of food waste is 31 billion dollars[8]! Considering the environmental impacts of landfills and the levels of food insecurity and malnutrition across the globe, food waste should be top of mind. For more tips on how you can reduce the amount of food waste in your home visit www.stopfoodwaste.ca.

 

[1] https://ourworldindata.org/yields-and-land-use-in-agriculture

[2] https://ourworldindata.org/agricultural-land-by-global-diets

[3] http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-community/environmental-health/article/sustainable-eating-eco-friendly-diet

[4] http://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/sustainable-diets-what-you-need-know-12-charts

[5] https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/food-climate-change/

[6] http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5555e.pdf

[7] http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/

[8] http://vcm-international.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Food-Waste-in-Canada-27-Billion-Revisited-Dec-10-2014.pdf