Sourcing food responsibly

The global food system is putting pressure on our planet’s ecosystems because the effects of the food system include water shortages, climate change, soil loss, deforestation, pollution which have all contributed to the unsustainable food system.  If this is not transformed it could collapse by 2050.

 

Global travel and enjoying new lifestyles have expanded our exposure to an array of foods from around the world.  The paradox of this situation is that some countries are net importers of food, especially those not grown locally, and others become net exporters of food to those regions, selling their best crops for earning valuable foreign exchange.  

Middle Eastern Food

What you can do

The food industry dictates the quality grade, shape, size to be sold to customers. So, what is the cost of rejecting perfectly edible food not destined for the supermarket? Labeling with short expiry dates are often misleading when the fresh items are still perfectly OK. Food can get wasted prematurely. It is estimated that 1.3 Billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year.

We all love a deal as we watch our pockets. The cost of food has been driven down by mass production. But the true hidden costs of production or quality of what we eat are not taken into account by cheap supermarket prices. The environmental cost of one meal, whether eaten or thrown out, is:

 

10 kgs of topsoil

1.5 litres of diesel

800 liters of water

0.3 grams of pesticides

3.5 kg of CO2 – emissions

 

A third of the world's soils has been lost in the past 40 years.

What others have done

The broken food system makes it important for us to all do something. 

Buy natural or organic: Food that has been grown or farmed without the use of artificial chemicals, hormones, antibodies or genetically modified organisms. It must be free of all articficial food additives. 

 

However, many countries do not have certification or inspection bodies. Many smaller producers, and clients are on the periphery of this.

Replace store bought convenience foods:  Many have additives so try making your own using natural ingredients.  

 

By fairly traded: Where possible support farmers from other countries to ensure they are treated justly and paid fairly.

 

Image by Kelly Sikkema
Boys Sitting on Pumpkins

A checklist

Eat Seasonally:  

This aligns with growing and eating locally. The land in every country provides the correct combinations of nutrients and minerals in our foods if grown ethically and does no harm to our land.  Many of us are not aware how food is grown. There are still forest dwelling people and farmers with traditional knowledge of what can be foraged, food that is free and many types that we do not know of!

 

Preserve the Harvest:  

Eat seasonally when you can buy what is cheap and plentiful. Learn how to preserve the harvest. Try dehydrating, freezing, pickling, and fermentation methods.

Giving up Convenience:  

Not the easiest adaptation but it forces us to simplify our food that is natural, fresh, health and flavorsome. Have a quick Look at how much convenience food and additives you are putting into your body over a week.  Introduce a few changes. Make your own sauces. Cook a few meals per week or cook bulk and freeze for another day.

Call for change

Buy sustainably grown and fresh: 

Check if the produce have been grown chemical free without pesticides.

Start a conversation with the producer or supplier.  Find out how or where it's grown. Is it providing a fair wage to farmers? Support small growers who are growing sustainably or social enterprises supporting them like small farm holdings or coffee growers elsewhere.

 

Eat Locally and support the local economy:

This reduces the CO2 emissions of air miles by importing food. It is important to not lose more arable land. The answer to food security lies with farming communities across the globe.

 

Know the cost of cheap food

Have you thought why some supermarket food is just so cheap?  You may not be paying for it at the check out but think about the cost to your health, the soil and the environment.  Read the labels.

 

Vegetable Shopping