One of the biggest shocks we had when we started exploring ways to live a greener life was how much of the world’s CO2 comes from the food we buy.
According to a 2018 Oxford University study 1/4 of all greenhouse gas emissions are a result of the food we eat. That’s more than all our cars, lorries, buses, planes and trains put together. The emissions come from farming, food packaging and transport, and sadly from good food rotting, either on its way from the farms to the consumers, (that’s largely an issue in poorer countries) or when we let it go to waste in our cupboards and fridges. (You have to be rich to be that wasteful.)
What’s more, a stagering 40% of the world’s non-desert land is given over to food production (so no room for wildlife there) and 2/3 of the world’s fresh water goes into agriculture, which increases water scarcity in many areas where people are short of water for their basic needs.
But there’s good news too. The same study concludes that we food shoppers, cooks and eaters could massivley reduce those environmental impacts by making different food choices. If we stopped eating animal products all together we would halve the greenhouse gas emissions due to food and release 3/4 of the world’s farmland which could be good for wildlife and biodiversity. Okay, there is zero chance of the world going vegan, but even moving half way towards that would have almost 3/4 of the greenhouse gas benefits and over half the land-use benefits.
here’s Joseph Poore’s paper published in the journal Science June 2018
And here he is talking about his work.