Why does the food I eat cause climate change?
The food we eat travels a long way to get to our plate. It has to be packaged to protect it. This means that you are causing CO2 emissions in transport. Creating the packaging uses fossil fuels and creates waste. If plastic packaging is used it is harder to recycle, it does not degrade if disposed of in landfill and may leach toxins. Glass and paper create waste unless they are recycled.
Food from animal sources such as meat, milk, cheese and eggs causes much more CO2 and uses more water than eating plants. Animals also create methane when they digest the food they eat.
Many people now use ready made or processed food. This may be because they do not know how to cook from the original ingredients. It may be because they think this will take more time than they have. Processed food uses CO2 when it is made and in the packaging that it needs.
A huge amount of food is wasted. Some at home often because sell by or use by dates mislead people into throwing away good food. Supermarkets waste too and they cause farmers to waste so called “ugly”vegetables and fruit.
What can I do about it?
Food from Animals
Increase the proportion of meals you have that are made only from plant sources. Gradually increase your meat free meals. Once you are eating meat less than once a fortnight you might want to consider becoming fully vegetarian.
Similarly you can do the same with milk and milk products and gradually replace them. Alternatively see if you can buy milk, cheese and butter from a local farm.
With eggs you might want consider keeping your own hens because that reduces the food miles the eggs travel.
Get to know what is in season and buy mainly or only things you know are grown in the UK. Buy local in farmers markets or community markets. There are fruit and vegetable box suppliers that will deliver. Grow some food yourself. Fruit/nut trees and bushes may be easiest for those with little time. If you can, grow vegetables you enjoy. Even with no garden you may have room for a window box with herbs. You can swap with neighbours to give you variety in your diet.
Learn how to cook. Everyone has to be able to feed themselves and cooking is a life skill we all need to learn. Start with simple things. Bake a potato, cook pasta, make roast vegetables. Authors like Delia Smith explain simply how to cook. There are videos on line for beginners. You can sign up for a class too.
Once you start to feel confident you can reduce the time spent shopping by ordering bulk ingredients from online suppliers. As you get more organised you will find you need to go shopping less often. The temptation to spend on processed food is less if you are not in a supermarket. This will save you money.
If you still use milk, buying it and butter, cheese, yoghurt etc. from the local milk delivery service will also help you stay out of supermarkets and away from temptation.