What’s On Your Plate and How Did It Get There?

This guest post was provided by Ruth Anslow, who co-founded hiSbe with her sister, Amy. At hiSbe they believe that everyone in Britain has the right to healthy, affordable, sustainable food.

Sustainable Food hiSbeI’d like to ask you for a sec to think about your dinner. It can be yesterday’s dinner or today’s dinner, I’m not fussed! Go on, allow those images of peas or pasta or pies or pizza to appear in your mind for a minute. Hold that thought…

Believe it or not your dinner is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions that there is. Yes, that’s right – that plate of meat & two veg in your mind staring sheepishly back at you took a great deal of fuel and energy to get onto that plate!

It’s not something we normally think about, but the way food is made has a big impact on the environment. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has calculated that, globally, agriculture generates 30% of total man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, including half of all methane emissions and more than half of all emissions of nitrous oxide.

This is because most of the food we eat is produced on a massive scale, is processed in some way and is imported. The journey food goes through from seed to supermarket is very heavily reliant on fossil fuel at different stages of that supply chain.

Firstly, there’s preparing the land so it can be used for agriculture and running greenhouses that grow products out of season for us, like tomatoes during winter. Then there’s the energy used to make the chemical fertilisers and pesticides that large scale intensive farming uses to maximise output. Then there’s the processing of food, to turn freshly grown food into a zillion different food products; everything from chicken nuggets to cheese strings. Finally, there’s the transport of food over long distances to fly it, ship it and drive it to the supermarket depots and then out again from the depots to each individual store.

Choosing more planet-friendly food isn’t difficult, it just takes a moment to think about it when you’re in front of the shelves. As a guide, try to steer towards these foods:-

  • Fresh: Buy more fresh stuff than processed.
  • More veg than meat: Intensive animal farming creates the most environmental damage.
  • Seasonal: Go for food grown in Britain at its natural time of year.
  • Local: Buy food grown or made near where you live.
  • Grass-reared meat: Not intensively farmed animals fed on intensively farmed corn.
  • Certified Organic: It’s made in ways that protect rather than harm natural ecosystems.

If you want to know more information, look no further than The Soil Association, a UK charity and, since 1946, a leading promoter of planet-friendly food.

Bon appetit!

This article has been written by a guest writer who is passionate about Green Living. If you have something you would like to say, contact us and let us know the idea you would like to write about.

Must Be British

Green Abode is supporting the hiSbe “Must Be British” campaign for British only food to be served at the London Olympics 2012. To support this campaign, go to Must Be British.

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