Did you know, that today, June 5th, is World Environment Day? And it has been since 1972.
I had no idea. I am not sure whether this is my fault for not keeping up to speed with current affairs, or the collective ‘medias’ fault for not bringing it to the attention of the wider populace. But that is an argument for another day.
World Environment Day is organised by the United Nations Environmental Programme, and is an annual event that is aimed at “being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action”. World Environment Day activities take place all year round and climax on 5 June every year, involving everyone from everywhere.
This year’s theme is Think. Eat. Save.
It is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign with the aim of encouraging us all to reduce our ‘foodprints’. A foodprint is (I think) the environmental impact that your food has.
Here is some Food for Thought, from the World Environment Day website:
- According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa
- 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry
- More than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die EVERY DAY from hunger
- While the planet is struggling to provide us with enough resources to sustain its 7 billion people (growing to 9 billion by 2050), a third of global food production is either wasted or lost
- Food waste is an enormous drain on natural resources and a contributor to negative environmental impacts
- It takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk and about 16,000 litres goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions from the cows themselves, and throughout the food supply chain, all end up in vain when we waste food.
- Global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land. It is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change
- If food is wasted, all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the food are also lost
There is, very obviously, a huge imbalance between the affluent, some might say corpulent lifestyle that we have in the Western world, and those who live in the developing world.
I think we would all agree that it is grossly unfair that while the average Brit throws away a third of their weekly supermarket shop, there are children quite literally, starving to death.
So how can choices we make about what we are going to have for tea tonight, make a positive impact on someone’s life in a country far away?
Here are some ideas (I know I am preaching to the converted here, as more often than not, it is you lot giving me tips, but humour me, it makes for a more rounded blog post…!)
- Try and choose foods that have less of an environmental impact-for example, organic food that has not used chemicals in the production process
- Eat meat sparingly. Or if you are a really hardcore carnivore, then how about starting with Meat Free Monday once a week?
- When you do eat meat, try and make sure it is British (we have far higher welfare standards than much of the rest of the world, and it will have less ‘food miles’) and that it has the RSPCA Freedom Food stamp. Meat produced in less intensive conditions will have a lower ‘foodprint’
- Use up every last scrap of food you buy. This will not only save you money but is hugely satisfying. Love Food, Hate Waste have some great meal plans and ideas to help you make the most of your food and use up your leftovers
- Cook from scratch. If you have put time and thought into what you are eating, then maybe you are less likely to throw it out? And you are always more likely to be able to make use of leftovers from a homecooked meal, than from a processed meal
- Check out my mini-series of Waste Not, Want Not posts I did to show how to use up your manky bits of fruit and veg that are lurking at the bottom of the fridge. You can find them here, here, here, and here, and I’ve blogged about cooking with Dead Things (things that are a bit past their best)-Dead Things Tart Tartin, Dead Things and Custard, and Dead Cake Pudding!
Food is a precious resource.
Everyone complains about the cost of food, but when you stop and think about the resources that have to go into, say rearing a chicken, why on earth do we think it is reasonable to pay only £5 for two?
So please, please please, think before you eat and help save our environment!