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All you need to know about Food Sustainability!

The word "Sustainability" has become a bit of a buzzword, that is often used and misused these days. So what does sustainable food system really mean? It is such a broad topic with many variables, but if we were to define it in one sentence we could say it is a food system that promotes the physical health of the public, the economic health of producers and farmers and fair treatment of everything else around us! Sustainable living is all about changing the way we use our resources in order to provide a secure future for the next generations!

Why is food sustainability important?

Currently we are using our resources at an unsustainable rate and this cannot keep going. Our choices in shopping and eating has put so much stress on our planet and the environment that it has contributed to climate change, deforestation, soil loss, pollution, exceeding demand for water supply and exploitation of certain species, to name a few.

We can fix our planet and do our bit to promote food sustainability.If we all make a conscious effort, we can minimise the damage and create a better future! Firstly, the waste levels of food in the UK are so high; we throw away 10 million tonnes of food every year and out of this 10 million tonnes of food waste, 71% occurs in the home. Forecasts show that if you added up all the food to be produced from now until the year 2050, the sum would equal the same amount of food that’s been consumed over the past 8,000 years.

Secondly, our current food supply system has a huge impact on green house gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat within the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Did you know that, one-quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions result from food and agriculture. In the UK alone, food production accounts for between 15-30% of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions. The meat and dairy industry increase the amount of greenhouse gases suspended and have a huge impact on our environment. Statistics of the current diet of a person in the UK indicate that each person contributes an estimated average of 2.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide, per year.

Finally, we need to reduce the amount of water that we use up, our current food systems use large amounts of water and takes up 70% of all human water use.

Now how can you promote food sustainability around you?

The UK has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. Understanding what we need to do to inculcate sustainable food habits will help to ensure food security for us and our future generations. Agriculture food production including harvesting, processing, packing, distributing and selling, have impacts on our environment. The part we play in purchasing, preparing and throwing away food also has environmental consequences too!

Some of the ways you can start your journey on food sustainability are:

  1. Buy local, seasonal produce to help reduce the carbon impact on the environment.

  2. Reduce food waste

  3. Reduce packaging waste

  4. Recycle wherever possible

Is the answer a plant based diet?

Adopting a plant based diet can help to reduce green house gas emissions, improve land and water use and reduce some of the stress on our planet. For example, the green house gas emissions of just beef and fish are 38 times higher than that of potatoes. It is also largely agreed that a plant based diet may be better for human health. Large intakes of processed and red meat has been linked to health problems and reducing our meat intake can help reduced the amount of saturated fats and salt in our body. We can eliminate the use of dairy and substitute it with plant based milks from nuts, coconuts, rice, soya or oats. However, it is important to note that when you switch to a plant based diet, you have create a very well planned diet in order to reduce the risk of deficiencies.

At BOM, we have been doing our part to promote a sustainable culture? During the recent nationwide lockdown, we teamed up with emergency food aid to help our community and make sure that good food reaches everyone during these difficult times!

Please do think about how your activities may directly or indirectly affect our food system and be a part of a like-minded tribe to help us reimagine our shared future!

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