Agriculture accounts for more carbon dioxide emissions than transportation. Producing our food is one of the largest contributors to climate change. Experts agree that the world cannot achieve net zero emission targets without changing our diets. Be that as it may, we still have to eat.
According to experts from Oxford University, there are things we as individuals can do to lower the impact of the food system on the climate.
There are three primary actions that would have the greatest impact: avoiding eating too much, cutting down on food waste, and reducing consumption of meat and dairy.
We all know that overeating is bad for our health, but it is also bad for the environment as it drives excess production and the emissions associated with it.
Food waste occurs across the supply chain but much of it is in the hands of consumers. Food waste costs us a lot of money and is associated with emissions that are ultimately unnecessary. The goal of the consumer should be to buy only the food one needs and to eat what one buys.
Meats, particularly from ruminant animals, result in the highest emissions per pound of food compared with vegetables, grains, and such. Some people have given up animal proteins entirely, but properly managed livestock are an important part of the agricultural ecosystem and provide valuable services including enhancing the carbon sequestering ability of grasslands. Nevertheless, it is important to reduce the global demand for meat and thereby prevent the need to clear more land for livestock and reduce emissions from meat animals. So, we should all eat less meat and dairy even if we don’t become vegetarians.
How can we eat without cooking the planet?
Photo, posted September 17, 2017, courtesy of Ella Olsson via Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.
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