Eating right has obvious health benefits – after all, you are what you eat. By eating with our health in mind (less processed foods, more fruits and vegetables), we are also doing much to help protect the health of our planet. For instance, livestock production accounts for a significant percentage of global greenhouse emissions. By shifting our diets to include less meat and more fruits and vegetables, we can contribute to a more sustainable food production system, and enjoy many health benefits as well. Below are four ways we can promote healthier food systems and healthier eating.
1. Examine your food choices: If American consumers ate fruits and vegetables at the recommended levels, farmers would grow a lot more of these foods.
2. Eat less red meat: Beef and cattle milk production account for over half of livestock greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock greenhouse gas emissions make up 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Avoid food waste: If food waste was a country, it would be the third highest greenhouse gas emitter, behind the U.S. and China. Think mindfully about what you eat and waste less.
4. Learn about the different ways we get our food: what is in-season? What is local? How can you contribute to a more sustainable food system through your purchasing power?
Sustainability is a topic of increasing importance [asparagus_grocerystore] as consumers become more interested in learning what lies beyond the supermarket. Where does food come from? How was it grown? Where was it produced? Sustainability is a multi-faceted issue, in which the food production system and sustainable diets play a crucial role.
What is sustainability?
Jeffrey D. Sachs, an expert on sustainable development and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, wrote: “Like all living species, humanity depends on nature for food and water, materials for survival, and safety from dire environmental threats, such as epidemics and natural catastrophes. Yet for a species that depends on the beneficence of nature, or on what the scientists call ‘environmental services,’ we are doing a poor job of protecting the physical basis of our very survival!” (1)
As we refer to it here, sustainability means the enactment of practices that fulfill the needs of society while protecting the physical basis of our long term survival, our environment. We cannot have a secure food supply unless that food supply is sustainable.
Why is a sustainable food supply important?
The world’s population is rapidly expanding, and it is estimated there will be over 9 billion people on our planet in as little as 25 years. (1) It is essential that food sustainability be an international priority to ensure that the rapidly expanding population will have both enough food to eat, and access to high quality, nutritious foods.
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