Feeding Ourselves without Hurting the Planet

What percentage of your food sourcing comes from the supermarket?
Are you part of the statistics that causes food systems to be the biggest single user of natural resources?

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Do you know that:
Food production has more than doubled globally yet over 800 million people still go hungry. But ironically two billion people are obese and one third of the food produced is wasted. 

Food production has more than doubled globally and diets have become more varied (as well as more energy intense) due to increasing sophistication of consumers’ preferences.

According to the International Resource Panel (IRP) report launched at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA2)  in May 2016 in Nairobi (http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel/), food production is the biggest single user of natural resources such as land, soil, water, biodiversity, minerals and fossil fuels. Food production is responsible for 60% of biodiversity loss and 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions. About 29% of fish stock are overfished, 33% of soils degraded and 20% of the world’s aquifers overexploited.

The IRP report has called for a ‘resource-smart’ approach to the way in which food is farmed and transported to consumers to combat the detrimental effects on our natural resources and health. The approach hinges on three principles – low environmental impacts, sustainable use of renewable resources and efficient use of resources.

Required changes are needed not only in the production stage but elsewhere in the supply chain including consumer eating habits and food sourcing. We are all guilty of succumbing to ’supermarketisation’ which has pushed the fresh market and farmers out of the food chain. Supermarkets require packaging which results in a drain in resources and waste production. Consumers’ preferences has caused resource-intensive products such as meat, fish, diary and highly processed foods. The report predicts that chicken and diary consumption is set to grow between 14 to 20% over the next ten years!

As consumers we are also players managing the food systems and can do our part in mitigating the detrimental environmental impact of our food systems.

Remember, small changes go a long way:

  • Reduce food waste.
  • Cut down on meat consumption and highly processed food.
  • Dietary choices not only help the environment but also our health.
  • Be aware of how the food we buy and consume is produced.
  • Include the friendly farmer and the smallholders in our food sourcing.
  • If there is space, turn the backyard to an eating lawn.