Saturday 9 January 2021

Food to Save the Planet

How your Eating Habits can Make a Difference

I was watching with interest the BBC 2 Horizon documentary 'Feast to Save the Planet' aired in January 2021. Five celebratory diners were asked to choose a starter, main meal, drink & dessert. While they enjoyed their meal, Mathematician Dr Hannah Fry worked with researcher & author Mike Berners-Lee to crunch numbers on the carbon foot print of each course..

Which Foods Fared Worse?

Did you know that food accounts for a third of greenhouse gas emissions? Comedienne Sara Pascoe's choice of Asparagus weighed heavy with high carbon footprint due to the product being imported from Peru. In the Summer it would have been a good choice but 'out of season' it has to be flown in by plane to keep it fresh. Local 'in season' fruit & veg fared much better.

In terms of fish, local cold water prawns & local mussels have a lower carbon footprint. Overseas warm water prawns fared much higher. Local salmon rated higher than mussels, as farmed salmon are fed on diets containing fish to get them to their optimum weight.

In terms of meat, chicken fared better than beef due to the cow's propensity to pass methane gas. Cows digestive systems rely on bacteria breaking down the food in its four stomach compartments, causing excess gas as a by-product (peppermint tea anyone?) 

Dairy food from cows leads to a higher carbon footprint too due to similar circumstances.

Cow Looking down Lens Photo by Jan Koetsier from Pexels

Excuse Me 💨

If you missed the programme click here to watch it now. You only have 28 days to watch it sadly and may only be available for UK viewers (due to license fees in the UK).

What Can We Do?

The take home message is that we can choose foods that are wrapped in less plastic waste, but also more likely to be in season and travel less food miles. A good way to do this is by supporting your local farm shop or grocery store, some of whom offer deliveries, or order online & arrange a click & collect. 

The food is less likely to have been sprayed with chemicals or stored in nitrogen containers to prolong their lives. Our local farm shop delivery comes in boxes or in paper - very low plastic or chemicals involved.

If you do shop in a supermarket bring your own mesh bag & buy items loose if you can to cut down on plastics. Look for items that are in season too (think root veg & winter greens or autumnal fruits such as apple & pears).

Whilst buying your product look out for the label of origin to guide you. Some symbols will even show the Union Flag for British grown produce.

Like to Learn More?

Mike Berners-Lee who featured in the program, is a researcher & writer on carbon footprints. 

No Planet B by Mike Berners Lee
He's an author of the book 'There's no Planet B' (mentioned in our list of 10 books on reducing plastic waste).

A new edition of the book is due to be released later in January 2021. I have purchased a copy & look forward to reviewing it later in the Spring. 

P.S the book review is now available (click here for link).