It is possible to eat while taking care of the environment. And it is not necessary to leave the meat or buy everything ‘eco’
Experts predict that in 2050 we will be 10 billion people (today we are around 7,800 and only half a century ago, in 1970, we were 3,700). That translates into stomachs to fill and, in turn, food to produce. A heavy burden on the environment, since in its preparation or achievement a large footprint of CO2 is generated, the gas that contributes the most to global warming that threatens the planet. And if the planet, in general, sounds too empty, even distant, a recent study by the University of Santiago de Compostela published in the scientific journal ‘Atmospheric Research’ on climate projections of heat waves, promises that in 30 years we will reach in Spain temperatures like those of Iraq.
Many experts warn about the danger of the situation that is to come and try to find the recipe to stop its advance; This is the case of the British Lindsay Miles – educator, speaker, writer and champion of life free of plastic and ‘zero waste’ – in her latest book, ‘Kitchen without waste. Simple steps to shopping, cooking and eating sustainably and without complications. ‘ “With these predictions we have to think differently about how and what we eat. The reason the reduction of meat and other animal products is so much discussed is that, although all agriculture has an impact, the production of meat and other animal products has the maximum impact. The sustainable food system for centuries has been rapidly unbalanced and is now responsible for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, more than half of which are from animal products. ‘
Miles places beef – including dairy cattle – and lamb among the most polluting not only because of the methane they release with their flatulence, but also because of the deforestation they cause to cultivate their pastures and forage. ‘Meat, aquaculture, eggs and dairy use about 83% of farmland, contribute up to 58% of carbon emissions from food and provide 37% of protein and 18% of calories we consume ”, reports the expert.
The ‘Meatless Monday’
And what do you propose? Well, it is not necessary to stop eating meat radically. He cites as an example the non-profit initiative created by former Beatle Paul McCartney and his daughters Stella and Mary: ‘Meatless Mondays’. He advocates that just by stopping eating meat one day “we will be making a world of difference”, and not only to help the planet, but also to help people’s health. According to a 2015 study, a diet that limited the consumption of this product to two days a week would cut carbon emissions in half, compared to a daily consumption.
Less cured poultry and cheeses
He advises switching from beef, lamb and pork to chicken, turkey and duck, because it produces less CO2, and recommends buying cuts of poultry with skin and bones to get more out of the animal (to make broth, for example). It encourages opting for cuts that are less in demand or directly rejected as this helps to reduce the general demand, and not only for people: if we have a dog, we choose poultry, rabbit or fish meat, in feed or fresh (neck, chicken shells and offal such as liver). Tender, less cured cheeses, such as cottage cheese, ricotta, brie, gorgonzola and feta emit less CO2 in their production than more cured ones because they contain less milk. Sheep cheese has twice the fat of cow and less water, so it is more sustainable – a sheep cheese needs less milk than a cow’s cheese.
Products ‘eco’, without pesticides
Products with Eco designation are those in which chemical fertilizers are not used in their production, which use a large amount of fossil fuels – instead they use compost, manure and crop rotation – or synthetic pesticides, promoting natural predators to control pests by leaving trees and hedges in their fields. They also do not use antibiotics (used in intensive farms because with so many animals together, diseases spread more easily). Is eco more expensive? “Most of the time, but the reality is that industrially grown and processed foods are often artificially cheap because the price does not reflect the real cost, specifically the cost to the environment. Switching to a totally organic diet can affect the food budget, so many people choose to start small. It is never all or nothing.
‘Locávoro’ does not come from crazy, on the contrary
The word ‘locávoro’ has been invented to designate those people who bet on eating locally sourced food, within a maximum radius of about 160 kilometers from their point of purchase or consumption. Some avoid all ingredients that are not produced in their environment, although others allow some dehydrated food or nuts that come from afar. The best way to buy local foods at the grocery store is to look on the label for the country of origin and choose the one that was grown closest. Buying directly from farmers facilitates the work and leads to consuming more seasonal products. These can be collected in a country where they are in season and sent to another, but it involves CO2 in their transport and, in addition, they are usually collected before they are ripe, which can affect the flavor.