Environmental changes are hardly a mystery. It is increasingly evident how human activities are damaging everything around them.; from the soil to the air, to the water and every water channel. When it comes to pollution, factories are mainly blamed., waste or transport, but few think about food.
Now you may wonder: "What does food have to do with the environment?”
The answer is very simple: “What we eat is important not only for our health, but for the planet too”.
The World Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that current food production is having a negative impact on the world's ecosystem, because it contributes to the 20-30% of greenhouse gas emissions, is the main cause of deforestation and soil degradation, and represents the 70% of human water consumption. In particular, cattle breeding to produce meat, eggs and milk emits the 14,5% of greenhouse gases and uses the 70% of agricultural land. These data are very alarming, if we consider that our system should be able to feed 8 billions people, but half of the world's population is malnourished.
For this reason, FAO and Food Climate Research Network (FCRN), an international network that studies the relationship between food, climate and biodiversity, have proposed asustainable nutrition that respects biodiversity and ecosystems.
A sustainable diet involves the consumption of nutritionally adequate food, sure, healthy, affordable and with a low environmental impact, that optimizes the use of land and water resources at the same time.
According to FAO, meat and animal derivatives are the products that cause the most damage because they come from intensive farming. Over the last 50 years global poultry production has increased by about the 700%, eggs had an increase in 350%, the pork meat of the 290%, sheep and goat meat of 200%, the cattle and buffaloes meat of the 180% and milk of the 180%. Furthermore, the total number of livestock reared has grown from 9 billions of 1970 to 26,7 billions currently, and the scenario is set to worsen due to manure, to antibiotics, to hormones, to fertilisers and pesticides used for feed crops, which need a lot of water to be irrigated. Suffice it to say that for 1 kg of beef need 15 kg of cereals and soybeans, 15.000 liters of water and, are emitted up to 68 kg of CO2.
It is healthier and less harmful to the environment to follow a diet rich in fruit, vegetable, cereals and legumes, always guaranteeing a certain variety to consume different products but at the right time. Thanks to technology and import, today it is possible to eat any food at any time of the year. However, it is preferable to choose seasonal fruits and vegetables because they have a higher content of vitamins and nutrients than those out of season, which must be stored for a long time in refrigerators before arriving at the grocery shop. Furthermore, this choice favors the field cultivation, that requires a less energy and less waste of natural resources compared to what happens in greenhouses. For example, tomatoes grown in a greenhouse have an emission factor 60 times higher.
Further indications recommend consuming small amounts of fish taken from certified sources, to limit, or better yet avoid, high-fat products, sugar or salt as sweets and sugary drinks and to use oils and fats with a balanced ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 like olive oil, flax or rapeseed oil. This is not only for the sake of our health, but also because foods rich in fats and sugars with many preservatives require long processing times with a high waste of energy, and therefore they are less sustainable.