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Food environmental impact

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default Food environmental impact

Post by Chilli-head on 14th December 2018, 1:55 pm

An interesting little tool in [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].

Obvious big contributers are beef and dairy. I'm sure there are some simplifications going on here, nothing has a straightforward answer. But it does cause me to ponder on one thing - what does this mean for organic fruit and veg. Stock-less organics is much more difficult than mixed farming where livestock make their contribution to fertility. We always tend to think of putting manure on our plot as the "eco" alternative to using synthetic fertilisers - but if the impact of livestock is so high, are we right ?

One other thing caught my eye:
If you fly regularly, replacing flying with other forms of transport may have a bigger impact on your carbon footprint than changing your diet. A passenger's carbon footprint from a one-way flight from London to New York is just under half a tonne of greenhouse gases. Switching from a regular petrol vehicle to an electric car could save more than double that over a year.

I think the "could" is important here. At this instant, my colleague's electric car is sitting outside our office charging. Also at this instant (see [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]), the UK is generating 5GW of electricity from coal. His journey home tonight will be effectively coal powered !
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Post by Dandelion on 14th December 2018, 5:19 pm

I saw this article the other day on the BBC website - I looked up plain chocolate (as it is something I really love but I know I could do without). The numbers were mind-blowing but I began to ask 'what about the people whose livelihood is linked to growing cocoa and producing chocolate?' It is interesting but I decided I couldn't use it on its own to help me make decisions about food products.

The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Post by Chilli-head on 17th January 2019, 11:41 am

So, more on the same topic from the Beeb, this time the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].  A way (?) to feed 10 billion people without costing the earth:

   Nuts - 50g a day
   Beans, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes - 75g a day
   Fish - 28g a day
   Eggs - 13g a day (so one and a bit a week)
   Meat - 14g a day of red meat and 29g a day of chicken
   Carbs - whole grains like bread and rice 232g a day and 50g a day of starchy vegetables
   Dairy - 250g - the equivalent of one glass of milk
   Vegetables -(300g) and fruit (200g)

The diet has room for 31g of sugar and about 50g worth of oils like olive oil.

I suspect the plates in the picture are quite small  Crying or Very sad

I still ponder on how, with so few livestock, we will maintain the soil fertility to grow the fruit, veg, nuts, pulses (I guess some of them are nitrogen fixing) without complete dependency on fossil fuel derived fertilisers.

I can see the argument that eating legumes etc directly instead of feeding them to cattle could be more energy efficient - but does that mean turning more grassland used for grazing over to intensive agriculture ? Might have quite an impact on the environment.  And how will we produce all the nuts ?  Some, e.g., Brazils, are harvested from the wild, we don't yet farm them.

And - if we must cut back on meat production so much, all those family pets are going to be a problem.  But they would need some nerve to mention that one.

Actually of course, the thing needed is to tackle the one thing taken as a given, population of 10M.  There is this idea that population will peak at 10M - I am not sure on what basis they believe it will peak there.  Of course, humans being what we are, we won't adopt this diet, will we.  The excessive consumers will continue while the poor areas of the world starve.  Perhaps that is what will level off the population at 10M ?
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Post by Ploshkin on 17th January 2019, 11:56 am

I believe the population is levelling out or reducing quite considerably in many developed countries. Of course that is not necessarily good news because it is meaning an unbalanced population with a high proportion of old people and not enough young people.

I know that livestock production does have an environmental impact but do get fed up with farmers being labelled the bad guys while yet more plans are made to extend major airports so that people can fly all over the world, often unnecessarily and ridiculously cheaply.

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Post by freebird on 17th January 2019, 2:14 pm

My own (probably hugely unpopular) view is that tackling population growth is more important than trying to feed an ever increasing population. That is as much as I am prepared to say on a public forum ....

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Post by Chilli-head on 17th January 2019, 3:36 pm

I think we do need to start discussing population as part of the equation, and that it should be OK to do so provided we're not suggesting anything racist, or involving a cull Shocked

Education and improved quality of life do seem to curb birth rates.  Not needing many children as labour force, pension, insurance policy etc, does its bit.  I suspect it goes further than that, and as people's quality of life gets higher, the "me" culture takes over and children are seen as too much of a burden / expense / lifestyle impact for some.
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