Towards sustainability: food 4


Towards sustainabilityFor the fifth part of these series – see the previous articles on heating, electricity, water and transport – I would like to tackle food in general. This is an important issue for both the health and the environment.

At a time where weight issues keep on increasing – to the World Health Organization, there are globally over a billion people overweight and 300 million obeses – food is becoming an environmental issue because of climate change.

This is important as to the International Panel on Climate Change, agriculture accounts for a fifth of global greenhouse gases emissions.

Don’t waste

In rich nations, too much food ends up in the trash can. Up to a third of the overall food is wasted in the United States while in the United Kingdom it’s a quarter of the food production that isn’t eaten. It’s high time this changes.

As I noted in my article last year, I find it staggering that our societies have become so affluent that it can literally throw away tons of food each day.

Eat less

You perhaps remember my article last month on how staying slim is good for the environment. This can be explained by various factors such as food production is a major climate change factor (see above) and as overweight people rely more on cars than lean ones.

To know if you are overweight you may consult your family doctor or calculate your body mass index with images below:

Eat less meat

It seems like for many other things, the dose makes the poison. Eating meat brings various nutrients that are necessary to the human body but eating too much of it can lead to serious health problems.

People in general eat much more red meat than 30 years ago. Getting back to previous levels would benefit the society as a whole as well as ourselves as red meat contributes to deforestation in both developed and developing countries.

Here is an extract of an article that caught my attention a few month ago (via Greener Good):

Better meat choices. Approximate caloric conversions (number of grain calories need to make equivalent meat calories) for meat from worst to better:

  • 8,000 grain calories to make 1,000 beef calories (worst option)
  • 4,000 grain calories to make 1,000 pork calories
  • 2,000 grain calories to make 1,000 chicken calories
  • 1,800 grain calories to make 1,000 fish calories (better option)

To reduce your meat intake, you can either cut the portions of meat or go meatless for some meals or days (cf initiatives like www.meatlessmonday.com). Replace if necessary by vegetables, fruits and cereals if you need. I personally do both.

Eat local

This is the part I personally find hard to work on. Indeed importing produces from other countries help their agriculture. This is particularly important for some developping countries. But since these produces need a lot of transportation, it’s no good to the environment.

In any case, I hope these few tips will enable you to pursue your way towards sustainability. See you in June for more ! 🙂


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4 thoughts on “Towards sustainability: food

  • Kiashu

    You are perhaps translating straight from French, you need some “according” next to the “to the IPCC” and so on 😉

    BMI is a rough guide only. Some people have larger or smaller frames than can make them seem over- or under-weight when in fact they’re fine. And some people can have a lot of muscle – according to BMI, Serena Williams and Arnold Schwarzenegger are obese.

    In addition, for our health more important than obesity is general fitness. It’s possible to be slim and sweat walking 1km to the train station, or have a belly and run there without sweating at all.

    I don’t think we really need BMI – we know when we’re too skinny or a bit pudgy, and when we’re unfit – except that most males overestimate their fitness. I recommend 10,000 steps, it helps a lot.

  • Edouard Post author

    ohoh ! I didn’t know I needed an “according” before to the IPCC. Thanks Kiashu. This proves that even with a BA obtained in Ireland I still am learning English ! 🙂

    On the BMI we agree. This is why I noted that people should consult their family doctor first.

    Personally according to BMI I am slightly underweight. But to my family doctor – my dad, with the same weight and height – I have a normal weight. This is as you point a matter of frame.