As in any habit change, we first need to understand what we are doing now, to know what we need to do next. Looking at the food you have at home and learning some facts about its impact on the environment will give you a good grasp of what products you tend to purchase and what should you change to have a more sustainable diet. So, before starting, ask yourself these questions:
The deal aims at turning environmental challenges into opportunities. From transport to energy, agricultural practices to construction materials, textile and chemical industry, the goal is to improve the use of resources and to be more sustainable - moving towards a clean and circular economy that aims at stopping climate change, reverting loss in biodiversity and cutting pollution levels.
To ratify the political ambition of being the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050, the Commission will present within 100 days the first European Climate Law.
When choosing to go for a more sustainable diet it’s important to understand which type of food you usually consume, as this can have a great impact on the environment. According to Our World in Data, the food industry is responsible for 25% of the World’s greenhouse emissions and 70% of all freshwater is used in agriculture; often to support livestock and harmful agricultural systems.
Moreover, the production of Livestock has severe consequences for the environment, representing close to 14.5% of Greenhouse Gas emissions and accounting for 77% of global farming land. The production/consumption of dairy and livestock also causes a great strain in biodiversity, as livestock represents 94% of the mammal biomass. Many wild animals are endangered due to agricultural land being occupied for livestock feed. Habitats are being altered and 24,000 species are considered threatened. It is also important to notice that even though livestock occupies a large part of the agricultural land it only produces about 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of protein.
Reducing the amount of meat and dairy you consume doesn’t mean becoming Vegan or Vegetarian. But perhaps you can start by shifting one or two days of your meat consumption to vegetable-based options and have a well-balanced diet. Reducing your meat consumption to two days per week: will make your diet sustainable and contribute to reducing the impact of one of the major contributors to climate change.
Every vegetable and fruit has its own ripening time of the year. When striving for sustainable food practices, you must pick vegetables and fruits that are specific to the season you´re in.
Changing this habit will not only be beneficial for the environment but will also be better for your body; as seasonal fruits and vegetables do not require lengthy transport and remain fresher. If you already do so, then great, the next thing to look at is the origin of the product you are buying. Seasonal food products, themselves, are high up on the list of sustainable food, going local would add extra points because they don’t require storage, transport, extra water usage, and Greenhouse Gas production.
More often than not, the products we buy require a lengthy transport route. They travel long distances from production to consumption and expend large amounts of fossil fuel, producing greater quantities of CO2 emissions.
To implement sustainable food practices in your home, try to buy products that are locally produced. And differently from what you might be wondering, locally produced products tend to be cheaper as they do not require as many fuel and workforce expenses.
Change never happens overnight, but you can gradually adapt. Start by taking small steps, implementing one sustainable food choice at the time into your routine. Moreover, reading and understanding about sustainable food will be the first step towards making informed decisions Next time you are out shopping, try to have the following in mind:
Fortunately, in recent years we have seen an increasing trend in the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. This means, above all, avoiding the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers as well as adopting crop rotation. These practices have proven to keep the soil productive and rich in nutrients, therefore, delivering higher yields and better products in the long run. Moreover, it will be more likely to find small local farmers that are fair to their workers and sell sustainable food at a reasonable price. If you can't find local farms near you, you can easily spot fairly-traded, organic goods in most supermarkets and smaller-scale shops.
Packaging of consumer goods is one of the main sources of urban waste generation. So until every single supermarket has taken the ultimate decision of banning packaged goods, it is our responsibility to ban them from our fridge. When choosing what to shop, try not to purchase products that have plastic or non-organic packaging. It will surely help you keep the fridge less stuffed and reduce the size of your recycling bin. Going to local markets and using reusable containers/bags will help a lot with that too.
When thinking about your sustainable food practices, remember the impact that disposal of organic and package materials has on the environment. Plastic and other materials such as glass and carton often accumulate in our homes, ending up in landfills.
An easy way to deal with organic disposal is to compost it at home. Small adaptations can be done to lead a more sustainable food system of disposal at a little to no cost. For example, food scraps and organic waste can be easily composted and used in a garden to help plants grow.
Sustainable food practices foster food systems that provide food and nutrition that is safe and for all. A small change in daily habits can lead to a food system that improves the economic, social and environmental landscape, allowing for future generations to continue benefiting from the Earth's capacity to provide natural resources. If you are curious and would like to learn more about sustainable food, take a moment and Download our sustainable food guide!