How can you assess the impact of what you eat? Guest writer Harriet Shugarman shares some insight and offers ways you can reduce your ‘foodprint’!
In 1972 the United Nations designated today, June 5th, as World Environment Day. Each year there is a different theme chosen to encourage action and focus political attention. The theme for this year’s World Environment Day is Think.Eat.Save. In a nutshell – waste less food and reduce your FOODPRINT!
This is a great opportunity to get your kids thinking and involved in how your family can make a difference.
3 food facts to share over dinner or at a family meeting:
- Every day, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die from hunger.
- Every year, about one-third of all food produced is wasted or lost—1.3 billion tons of food in the trash—according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
- Global food production uses 25 percent of all useable land and is responsible for 70 percent of fresh water consumption, 80 percent of deforestation, and 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Why are greenhouse gases a problem?
When light hits the earth’s surface and is reflected back, greenhouse gases act like the roof of a greenhouse, absorbing the heat and warming the earth’s surface. Some, like carbon dioxide, occur in nature, which can be good for our planet. But when carbon dioxide is human-made (ie through the burning of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas), scientists tell us this is putting the earth “out of balance.” which is bad.
What can you do?
Challenge your family to come up with a plan to reduce your family’s food waste, and your family foodprint. Get a notebook to record your family’s actions and report in on a weekly basis. Remind your kids that if food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used in the production of that food are wasted too. For example, according to the United Nations Environment Program it takes about 264 gallons of water to produce 1 quart of milk and about 4,227 gallons of water to grow the food a cow needs to eat, to make just one hamburger. Not so fun fact,gas from both ends of the cow really does add up and is a significant source of global greenhouse gases!
How and what you eat, where it comes from and how you prepare it all contribute to your foodprint. Remind the kids in your life that in order to slow down climate change we need to reduce our greenhouse gases. Get your kids to come up with ways your family can make wiser food choices. Share your family’s ideas with us and with others in your community.
3 ideas and actions:
Idea: Food Miles
Action: Visit farmers markets and buy local foods. Get to know your local farmer. Ask them questions about how they grow their crops and raise their animals. Take note of local prepared foods and when fresh local foods are in season. How far did the food travel to get to your table?
Idea: Home Gardening
Action: Plan a trip to a “U-Pick” farm and let your kids see where their food comes from and how it grows. Did you know that asparagus grows up from the ground in single stalks?
Action: Take note of portion sizes and how much food waste is generated at each family meal both through preparation and from what is left on your plates at the end of the meal; make adjustments accordingly.
Take Action Challenge
Pick one of the ideas above. When you Think.Eat.Save, you can make a difference!
Harriet Shugarman is the founder and editor of Climate Mama, where you can learn more about smart and simple ways to help your family get greener!
Photo credits: Harriet Shugarman