Food and climate change are linked in complicated ways. The global food industry requires an enormous amount of energy to cultivate, transport, store, prepare, and serve foods. This leads to lots of greenhouse gases, and, in the process, soils, rivers, oceans, forests, and more, are often degraded and destroyed.
Climate change, meanwhile, creates its own vicious cycles of activity — environmentally vulnerable countries are often the most food insecure. So as climate change increases, their agricultural potential often declines. Yet these countries need food and, subsequently, their reliance on the complicated logistics of food aid increases. Improving their adaptability and resilience is a critical part of any global food discussion.
But not all foods are created (transported, stored, prepared, and served) equally. Some foods have a really big impact on the environment and others don’t. A lot of factors influence ecological impact, and, if looked at holistically, it’s possible to develop a diet that is more eco-friendly.
Meat has the biggest environmental impact out of all food types, especially beef. But, like all foods, the full picture is complicated. There are a few overlooked environmental benefits to raising livestock when done in a limited way. Livestock’s waste can be used as fertilizer that can help grow crops (reducing the need for chemical fertilizer). Most livestock feed is made up of waste products like spent grain, so raising livestock can create extra calories for humans to consume that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.
But these benefits come with a major caveat: moderation. Eating meat on a daily basis can never be sustainable.
Almost all foods come with caveats of some kind, but there are clear choices that will make your diet more eco-friendly.
Here are some of the best foods to add to your diet.