The world as a whole has to rethink food production and consumption if we want to survive. Food security is not to be perceived as availability for all i.e. freedom from hunger but as something vastly complex for it involves what we produce, how we produce, what we consume and how we consume.
Recent research and findings show the urgent need for humanity to rethink food culture. The Guardian published an article by its environment editor, Damian Carrington, on 31 May 2018 entitled “Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth”. It tells us that not only industrial activities but also some agricultural practices are responsible for our environmental disaster.
Some shocking pieces of information found in Carrington’s article:
- The new analysis shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.
- “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the research. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.
- One surprise from the work was the large impact of freshwater fish farming, which provides two-thirds of such fish in Asia and 96% in Europe, and was thought to be relatively environmentally friendly. “You get all these fish depositing excreta and unconsumed feed down to the bottom of the pond, where there is barely any oxygen, making it the perfect environment for methane production,” a potent greenhouse gas, Poore said.
- Prof Tim Benton, at the University of Leeds, UK, said: “This is an immensely useful study. It brings together a huge amount of data and that makes its conclusions much more robust. The way we produce food, consume and waste food is unsustainable from a planetary perspective. Given the global obesity crisis, changing diets – eating less livestock produce and more vegetables and fruit – has the potential to make both us and the planet healthier.”
We import 80% of the food we consume and so we are, as a ‘hopefully’ budding nation, in a highly vulnerable situation. The impending rise in sea level and disaster caused by global warming and general climate change worldwide will have a dramatic impact on our lives. There will be food shortage; tourism as we know it will have to give way to a different kind of activities. Are we preparing ourselves for this?
Our bad food culture already has severe repercussions: 40% of the population are overweight; 20% suffer from diabetes etc. In what kind of devastated and devastating world are we going to leave our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren?