What’s for dinner?
On a planet wracked by rising seas, expanding deserts, withering biodiversity, and hotter temperatures, that’s a fraught question to answer. Food production accounts for roughly a quarter of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions, and scientists have found that limiting global warming will be impossible without significant changes to how the world eats. At the same time, climate change is threatening the world’s food supply, with land and water being exploited at an “unprecedented” pace.
Reforming the food system to save the planet is going to require new corporate practices, and new laws and regulations at the national and international levels. But individual consumer behaviors matter, as well—more than you might think. Your diet is likely one of your biggest sources of climate emissions. But what should you do? Eat locally? Get your food from small-scale farmers? Choose organics and fair trade? Avoid processed foods? Eat seasonally?
The choices are many; the stakes are high. But experts on land use, climate change, and sustainable agriculture told me that two habits tower above all others in terms of environmental impact. To help save the planet, quit wasting food and eat less meat.
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The conservation nonprofit Rare analyzed a sweeping set of climate-change mitigation strategies in 2019. It found that getting households to recycle, switch to LED lighting and hybrid vehicles, and add rooftop solar systems would save less than half the carbon emissions combined than would reducing food waste and adopting a plant-based diet.
Let’s begin with the role of food waste. Americans waste a lot of food. Nearly one-third of it, in fact. More than 130 billion pounds a year, worth roughly $160 billion. We throw away enough food to close our own “meal gap” eight times over. Food is the single biggest component of our country’s landfills, and the average American sends more than 200 pounds of food there every year. More than 1,250 calories per person a day, or more than 140 trillion calories a year, get tossed in the garbage.
Households, not restaurants or schools or corporate cafeterias, are the dominant wasters. The problem is worse in the United States than in most other countries, and it has worsened over time. When you toss a spoiled chicken breast or moldy tomato into the trash, you’re wasting a greenhouse-gas-intensive product. You’re also sending it to a landfill, where …read more
Source:: The Atlantic – Best of