How does what we eat affect the planet? - The Garden Eatery

How does what we eat affect the planet?

September 26, 2020

It is exciting to see the positive progression in conversation around sustainability and taking care of our environment here in the UK.
As we know, many of our actions can impact the planet; and food production along with our food choices is definitely something to consider when working to make a positive change.  

Of course, we need to move forward with these lifestyle changes at our own pace and in a way which is well suited to our individual needs and circumstances, however having an awareness of these issues alongside an idea of how we can adapt, could help us to discover a diet which is well suited to our personal needs, and to the needs of our planet. 

So, how does what we eat affect the planet?

Food Waste:
Although there has been a conscious effort to avoid this as of late, food waste is a huge problem across the world, and interestingly, most of which comes from individual households. This can be down to over purchasing, losing track of what’s in the fridge and things going out of date.

Depending on our environment, location and individual choices, some of this food waste may be separated / put into compost; however generally, most household waste will go into the bin and then ends up in landfill. As our population grows and the demand for food increases, it’s a matter of just not having enough space for the waste that we produce.

Water:
As previously mentioned, our population is growing, and the need for more food comes with it.  However, continuing to follow our current food production methods would require more fresh water. So, it’s worth considering how much water is required to produce certain food sources in comparison to others.
One example is that we need much more water for livestock compared to vegetables and grains. For meat, the water is needed both to raise the animal itself and for the crops that feed it, in comparison to certain vegetables and grains which do not go through the same process.
This is absolutely not to say meat is off the menu, and it’s important to recognise that certain plant sources also require a lot of water to produce and transport, however it’s something to be mindful of.

Land use:
As the desire for certain foods continue to grow, so does the amount of space we need to produce them. Raising livestock and all that comes with it requires a great deal of land, as do certain grains and fresh produce. This higher demand for land can often lead to cutting down trees, disrupting free green spaces and sadly, deforestation.

Moving Forward
In an ideal world, we could work together to move forward making food choices which have limited impact on the environment whilst also fulfilling nutritional needs. That said, it is important to remember that everyone’s situation is different, and the choices we make around food are not solely down to our individual desires; but our environment, lifestyle, health and financial situation all come into it too.
So, before feeling the pressure to make a change, remember that small steps are better than none, consider your personal circumstances, do what you can and hopefully some of the pointers below may help to get you started.

Where to start?

Work to reduce food wastage:
Consider:
- Making a meal plan to ensure you get what you need for the week ahead without over purchasing
- Freeze leftovers, or fresh food which is going past its best
- Shop smart – check what you already have and choose wisely when you’re at the supermarket. Things like tins of beans and legumes, dry whole grains, oats and frozen fruit and veg are both long lasting and nutritious.

Be mindful of meat consumption:
It’s important to mention that as well has having many nutritional benefits, meat is not the only thing we need to be mindful of when working to eat more sustainably, however due to its impact on water and land use and the vast amount we consume and continue to produce, reducing consumption in a way that suits your personal needs could be something to think about.
Thinking about whether or not it’s possible to source it in a more sustainable way (e.g. local / organic) or starting with a couple of meat free meals a week could be a great first step.

Start small and be sensible:
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Look at your lifestyle and consider what is realistic. It’s important to recognise that reducing meat consumption may not be beneficial for everyone, in the same way that it may not be affordable to make local and organic swaps. Think. If you want to make a change, what can you do today that could help. It could be as simple as becoming more informed. Research those foods which have less of an environmental impact and begin to make sustainable swaps which work for you! That way, you’ll begin to feel more prepared to get started when the time is right.

Our choices and actions can have a huge impact on our planet and on future generations.
What could you do to make a change?


Holistic Health Coach - Anna Whyte
 

'The 'Wellness with Anna' philosophy focuses on taking a more balanced and holistic approach to health, providing clients with the tools they need to make sustainable changes and the motivation to start their new health journey.

We discuss how you can eat real, nourishing food, exercise mindfully and prioritise time to relax. What I provide isn't a diet; it's a holistic approach to a healthier life.'


References:

Time to talk about sustainable eating – Dr Hazel Wallace
How can you eat more sustainably – Emilia Fish



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