Intelligent food choices form an integral part of the One in a Billion approach, primarily because it directly influences every aspect of our final goal: a happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable life. Quite a bit has already been said about the health aspects of food in a previous chapter. In addition, the crucial importance of intelligent investment into the health of our own body/mind was described as a cornerstone of wealth as well as happiness. This post will briefly outline the environmental aspects of food.
As mentioned before, the global population already consumes as much resources and excretes as much waste in one year as our planet can replenish and process in 1.5 years. Agriculture is responsible for a surprisingly large portion of that footprint. In fact, if you go through a personal footprint calculator like this one, you may well find that your food footprint (or “foodprint”) represents the largest portion of the burden you place on the biosphere (mine is given below as an example).
The most important factors determining your foodprint are the type and quantity of food you eat, the distance it travels to get to you, and the way in which it was produced. Type and quantity remain the most important factors. Although significant variation exists in the calculation of the footprints of different food categories, the graph below gives a pretty standard reflection of the general trend.
It is clear that meat products (beef and lamb in particular) have very high foodprints. Pork, fish and chicken offer better alternatives, but are still much more ecologically damaging than plant-based products. In general, people in rich countries are quite far over on the left of the above graph and also consume much greater quantities of food. The natural result is soaring rates of obesity and highly unsustainable ecological footprints.
Since food is such an important factor in the quest for a happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable life, we will spend an entire chapter on the topic later on. For now, however, the primary takeaway is that we, the richest billion on the planet, can do a great deal of good by shifting our food consumption patterns from large portions of imported meat-based products towards smaller portions of locally produced plant-based products. Doing your little bit to shift the demand profile in this way can have enormous positive impacts on your life, your community and your world.
Filed under: Consumption patterns – The green economy