The food that we purchase, prepare and consume has an impact on our health and environment. As the world’s population grows, there is increasing pressure on the environment to produce enough food and energy from an increasingly damaged planet.
A wide range of our behaviors are degrading the environment and as a result will make food less available in the future. We need to consider the impact of our food choices on both the sustainability of the environment and the health of the population. The small changes that you can make to your food-related behaviors can greatly reduce your carbon footprint and improve your personal health.
Purchasing more than we need and eating more calories than we require can have effects on our environment. Our current food supply system produces a significant amount of uneaten food. The more unnecessary food we buy, the more we are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transport, processing and storage of food. When food is thrown out and sent to the landfill, it decomposes and in the process releases methane, a gas with a more potent global warming potential than carbon dioxide. It is for these reasons that we should simply purchase what we need.
- Eat only what you need to maintain a healthy weight
- Consider the size of your food and drink serves when at home or eating out
- Listen to your stomach – eat slowly and stop when you are full
- Reduce consumption of high fat and high sugar foods that are low in other nutrients
- Choosing organic food and drink is an important way to reduce environmental damage
Eating too many foods that are high in fat or sugar but are low in vitamins, minerals and fiber contributes to this problem. In addition, these foods are often highly processed, which means that a lot more energy has gone into making the product, compared with more natural foods, such as fresh fruit. The extra processing that has gone into the product produces carbon emissions, through the preparation, transport and storage of the product. By eating less of the foods that produce high carbon emissions and that contribute to health problems such as overweight and obesity we can significantly decrease our carbon footprint. The livestock industry is another major contributor to global warming and a significant user of water.