Food For Thought
When we think of ‘sustainability’, we may think of pollution, plastic and problems of waste.
The food we eat on a daily basis may not be an immediate consideration in the grand scheme of things. In fact, we have become somewhat disconnected to the entire journey of our food. We can walk into any supermarket and access exotic foods from all over the world, any time of the year without a second thought to how they got there.
#courgettegate of 2017 - the nationwide shortage of courgettes - may seem like a distant memory, but it highlighted just how vulnerable our food supply can be in the face of extremities.
Our global food system is vastly more complex than we perhaps comprehend and it is inextricably linked to various environmental issues. Food sustainability will be a key challenge in the face of climate change.
So, what are some the issues?
Pollution: From chemical fertiliser and industrial farming to the storage and transportation of food all over the world, our global food system consumes a vast amount of energy (as well as water and land) and is responsible for a massive amount of pollution. It is also a large climate change contributor, responsible for around one third of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Plastic: Packaging plays a key role in keeping food fresh and safe when transporting from field to food retailer, and all the stops in between. Packaging can also help to prolong the shelf life of food, in turn reducing food waste. (Having said this, packaging has also been found to increase food waste).
We are no strangers to the issues of single-use plastics and some extremely unnecessary uses of it (we will look further into this in our ‘Plastics’ section); even worse when you consider that packaging items from food and drinks are some of the most commonly found marine litter items in Europe.
Problem of waste: Food loss and waste represents a significant waste of land, resources, water and energy. Food waste is also responsible for a large amount of methane emissions when it rots in landfill, contributing to climate change.
The irony of all the above is that food and crop production is vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as floods, droughts and extreme weather. On top of this, a growing global population makes food security an even more pressing issue.
According to scientists, our global food system is broken.
So, what can we do to help fix it?
More plants, less meat
Sustainable or no palm oil
No or recyclable plastic
Local where possible
Reduce food waste
Selecting sustainably sourced ingredients
When trying to adhere to all of the above it can be a little confusing. After all, it is extremely rare to find foods that tick all of the above boxes. For example, vegan baked goods may contain palm oil, or organic produce may be protected in plastic to prevent ‘contamination’ by non-organic produce - this speaks to a wider issue in our broken food system.
If you are able to, growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs would be the most sustainable option. However, in reality a small percentage of us will have the space, time or patience to do this.
Either way, you can make a positive difference by selecting more sustainable options when doing your weekly shop(s).
From pollution and plastic to problems of waste, not to mention damage to soil and water from unsustainable farming methods, we will be unravelling the complex mix of ingredients that can make up a sustainable food system. We will be sending out a series of articles about each of the 8 points listed above, to help you to understand why each is an issue worth considering. You can then make up your own mind when it comes to the trade-offs! (for example, organic vs. unpackaged).
We will also be featuring some of our favourite brands offering sustainable foods, snacks and foodboxes. Keep reading for our favourite vegan snack box!