Everyone is busy exasperating over our kitchen waste polluting the environment, but nobody is thinking about what lands on our table is doing to the same environment even before it turns into waste! Very few know while the rest are conveniently ignoring the harsh fact that the food choices we make have a massive impact on the environment. Food before reaching our kitchen goes through a laborious process of production, processing transporting, selling and storing. The time taken to complete this cycle determines the carbon footprint of your comestibles. Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a process associated with human activity. Be it a chemical plant or a crop, each process has its own carbon footprint. The food on our plate also has!
Eating ‘green’ may sound clichéd, but is unarguably the only way we can direct our efforts towards reducing the environmental damage, a lot already done and even more in the pipeline.
What is happening ?
Pesticides and fertilizers going into crops have skyrocketed. They may accelerate and maintain crop growth but ambiguously pollute air and water quality apart from posing serious threat to health of farmers and workers.
What can we do?
Choose organically grown crops. And even better, if you have the space, grow them! They not only are healthier but also taste good, devoid of the causticity of pesticides and fertilizers.
What is happening?
A large chunk of fertile forest lands are being converted into grazing lands to grow animal feed like soy, corn etc. for livestock and meat industry. Methane released from digestive process of ruminants like cow, goat and sheet has a large carbon footprint. Seafood too is a big benefactor of carbon footprint with the amount of fossil fuel burnt in open-ocean fishing fleets. Producing livestock for human consumption dispenses almost 15% of the emitted global greenhouse gasses.
What can we do?
Eat from the lower half of the food chain: vegetables, fruits, limited quantity of dairy and less of red meat will surely cut down on your bit of contribution to global destruction!
What is happening?
The mention of glamorous gourmet preparations undoubtedly makes us drivel in excitement. Imported exotic consumables and perishables like berries, nuts, greens use enormous energy resources for transportation, storage and most of them require high-end refrigeration. Needless to say, the carbon footprints left behind are gigantic.
All our frozen goodies are the real baddies wearing colourful capes of deception!
What can we do?
Go local. Clichéd again. But works amazingly; not just for your health but also for the environment. Opt for fresh, locally and naturally grown fruits and vegetables.
It may require an extra bit of effort but next time buy your stuff from a local market or directly from a farmer than dumping into the supermarket trolley. Not only will you help with your bit to cut down transportation footprinting but also are likelier to get fresher rations and greater satisfaction of helping a farmer get his/her due! Estimated by The Natural Resources Defense Council, that importing of fruits and vegetables contributes to smog-forming emissions equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from 1.5 million cars! If this doesn’t alarm us then what will?
Did you recently gobble up a pizza delivered from your favourite eating joint?
While you were busy counting the number of pieces you will lay on hands on, the carbon footprint of your pizza delivered has been already tabbed and accounted!
Based on statistical evaluations, a pizza restaurant on an average consumes:
All put together, it leaves us gasping for breath at the catastrophically whooping figure to deal with!
We are all the time talking about mindful eating. But mindfulness is significant only if it helps maintain both physiological and ecological equilibrium. As against a heap of cheesy pork pasta, a locally grown organic fruit or vegetable footprints far less on the carbon dioxide scale and can be sustained for longer periods as practice due to its availability, digestibility, compost-friendliness and health turnover!
On World Environment Day, put the first step forward. Stop your hands from pulling out that packet of frozen peas, visit the Sunday fruit market, ‘beef down’ you red meat consumption and instead of placing a home delivery order for your burger, walk down to the dining place tonight!
Going green puts a great responsibility on not just what goes off our plates but what touches our palate.
Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.
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