Does it really matter what I choose to eat?
The simple answer is yes. Energy is used directly to produce our food – for example tractors and trucks burn diesel which releases carbon dioxide, the main driver of climate change. There are additional factors such as soil type, farming systems and fertilisers, and the interactions between them cause other greenhouse gases to be released. Supply chains from “food to fork” are complex so eating local food can be a good choice to make.
You can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health by eating more plant-base meals and enjoying meat or fish occasionally. Food imported on ships, such as bananas, oranges and out-of-season apples, have low carbon footprints so enjoy eating them.
Are you feeling overwhelmed and bewildered by all the information available? Let’s look at tomatoes as an example.
Any crop grown in a heated greenhouse is contributing to climate change, so in summer buy UK farmers’ tomatoes as they are grown outdoors.
In spring and summer tomatoes grown abroad, either outdoors or in poly-tunnels will be shipped to the UK by ferry and truck and are likely to have a lower carbon footprint than those grown in heated glasshouses in the UK. In winter, eat fewer fresh tomatoes or none at all. Most shopping choices are much easier to make than this one!
Here is our quick guide to eating in a more sustainable and healthy way.
- Eat lots of seasonal vegetables and less meat, milk & cheese.
- Choose pork and chicken over beef and lamb, choosing locally reared meat where possible.
- If possible, eat less food that has been air-freighted and buy from local growers such as at farmers markets, https://www.hampshirefarmersmarkets.co.uk/market-locations/
- Look for sustainable food symbols e.g. MSC blue label on fish. https://www.msc.org/what-we-are-doing/our-approach/what-does-the-blue-msc-label-mean
- Check country of origin labels on packaged food and look for the Union flag.
Your food choices have an huge impact on climate change.