Food and Drink - website content

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We can all be fed with good quality food and drink whilst nature and the climate recovers. In the process we will eat more healthily and will waste a lot less. We will learn about different types of food and eat a more varied diet that follows the seasons. Our knowledge will grow in the process and so will our families.

Food is costing us the earth and it’s being wasted. The trend is us for us to buy high calorie fast food. It tingles the natural endorphines stimulated by this type of easy to access high return food, but isn’t making us any healthier or happier.

Here you will find a means to eat fresher, more nutritiious, less packaged food, which has less of an impact on the environment and your wallet.

How Food and Drink Impacts the Environment

The source of food drink is from the land. As we consume more land hungry food stuffs we take land that would have otherwise housed nature and stored carbon. We then use a great deal of water to grow food, and have either agricultural machinery or people to help manage the land and harvest the produce. The produce is then packaged and transported, where then it is retailed.

There may be additional impacts according to agricultural practices. The ploughing of fields releases carbon and degrades top soil which pollutes air and water The addition of organic or inorganic fertilizer, results in run off which pollutes water sources, and the use of pesticides kills insects and other wildlife. If meat or dairy is being cultivated then there is additional carbon emissions and run-off which pollutes air and water. Land is also used to grow grain to feed these animals.

The worst environmental impacts are from Beef or Lamb, which has incredible land use, carbon dioxide and water use per KG of meat produced. Dairy products follow afterward, using an incredible 50 meters square of land, 300 litres of water and 12KG of carbon per litre of milk. Fish, pig and poultry follow this with drink and eggs following after.

There is a full register of the impact of each food stuff on the community site for those interested in exploring this further.

The Difference Diet Makes

Diet makes a huge difference. Dairy has the single biggest impact, simply because of the volume we consume (25% of weight shopped from by an average UK consumer). Cutting out the purchase of meat also has an impact if meat is farm sourced - wild meat bears little to no environmental impact.

The following table gives an environmental impact from an average shop, with how various diets alter these impacts.

tCO2e m3 of Water Hectares of Land
Av. UK Annual Shop Impact 2.0 459.7 0.8
As a percentage of Average
Vegan 45% 19% 20%
Vegatarian (no dairy) 46% 19% 21%
Vegatarian 81% 86% 72%
Pescarian 83% 92% 73%
Meat 20% Reduction 98% 98% 95%

Sources of Food and Drink

As food also bears an environmental impact from the method of farming, transport and packaging, it also matters how food is sourced.

Purchasing organic food reduces impact as this does not use pesticides or artificial fertizers in production. Some farms also implement zero till regimes whereby they do not plough and also set aside areas of land for wildlife, which reduces ecological and carbon emissions. Eating meat which is solely pasture fed reduces land use, and has other nutrient benefits.

Sourcing food locally cuts out transport emissions. If you are able to grow your own food then land use and packaging impacts are almost nil.

Packaging also has a huge ecological impact from plastic being burnt, going to landfill or ending up in our oceans. It is known that even if you recycle plastic only 9% of it is actually recycled!

Top suggestions from the community include using zero waste shops and getting season veg boxes delivered.

Cutting Impacts from Waste

In the UK 43 million tonnes of food are purchased, of which 6.7 million tonnes of edible food is wasted (Wrap, 2020). The majority of the food wasted is from households, with around a quarter being wasted by hospitality and manufacture.

Cutting food waste would dramatically reduce environmental impacts. There are numerous apps and tools which people can use to help tackle this problem which are recommended through this website.

Eating Out

Where you eat can have influence diet, how the food you eat is produced and how much is wasted. There are some suggestions on how to reduce your impact from eating from recommendations made by the community.