A recent study has found that growing and eating healthy food is not only beneficial for us human beings but it is good for our environment too! So, what does a healthy diet constitute? It’s a range and variety of food including whole grains, legumes and nuts, fruits and vegetables, fish which gives us enough nutrients to maintain our health and makes us feel good and energetic. These nutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals. However, the fact is that the entire process of food production and consumption has an adverse effect on our environment. It is estimated that, already, agricultural activities which include deforestation, livestock production result in the addition of 30 per cent of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Furthermore, because of farming, dead ocean zones are formed and a lot of water is wasted too. By 2050, the world population would reach 10 billion which would mean more food production and consumption. If we carry on the way we do, tackling climate change would become a Herculean task for us.
In order to slow down spiralling global warming and climate crisis, we need a radical transformation in the way we farm and produce our food. We need newer land and farm strategies. Another concern is the unfathomable amount of food wastage being done, annually. As per the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, we waste approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year, globally. The United States of America, alone, is known to throw away around 50 per cent of all the food supply; this is some 60 million tonnes of food! This food waste ends up in landfills which releases several greenhouse gases. Our obsession with the aesthetics of the food lets the food suppliers and store owners discard any vegetable or fruit which gives a slight hint of withering or bruising. However, at one end of the scale, we have the US which is the highest consumer of junk food, and on another, we have some West African countries, which as per the assessment of the researchers at the University of Cambridge, have the healthiest and most sustainable diet in the world.
Scientists and environmentalists have been promoting lesser dependence on meat as a part of our daily diet. Raising beef cattle is causing global warming resulting from greenhouse gas emissions from cows. An estimation says that beef production in some Western countries need to fall by 90 per cent and that has to be replaced by five times more beans and pulses to arrest climate change. Decreased consumption of meat could have a major impact on water usage as well.
While the awareness of healthier food choices has certainly risen over the past few years, we still need to go a long way to implement effective agricultural and food waste management strategies to make our food production and consumption healthier and environmentally sustainable. We need to produce and supply food which provides health benefits to the customer, environmental benefits to our planet and financial benefits to businesses without sacrificing customer satisfaction.