Issues

Global Warming

Blog Action Day: Global warming and food

strawberriesFresh Energy is participating in Blog Action Day 2011.

Supplying Americans with food takes a lot of energy and produces a lot of global warming pollution. That’s because fossil fuels are burned and global warming pollution is created in almost every step of conventional food production, from the operation of planting, harvesting and irrigation equipment to the production, transportation, and application of pesticides and fertilizers.

So what can you do about it?

Eat sustainable and organic food

Sustainable and organic food is often grown on smaller farms by farmers who use less and smaller equipment—which burns less fossil fuels. It also requires much less, if any, pesticide and fertilizer, and in turn, less energy.

Minimizing meat consumption can also help, as meat requires much more energy to produce than fruits and vegetables. Make sure that the meat you do eat is sustainably and humanely raised—it takes about three times more energy to raise animals in feed lots or factory pens than to raise free-range and grass-fed meat.

Eat minimally processed, packaged, and marketed food

Growing crops takes energy, but turning those crops into a box of crackers or a frozen dinner entrée can take just as much energy, if not more. Marketing food also uses energy. Generally speaking, the less processing and packaging you see, the less energy went into production and marketing, and the less global warming pollution was created.

Eat locally produced, in-season food

Whether transported by boat, rail, truck, or plane, it takes fossil fuels to get food from the farm to your plate. The distances traveled by food are increasing, and an ever-larger portion of our food is coming from far away. Food miles are the distance food travels to get from the farm to where you purchase it. Distance alone, however, is not the only energy consideration. For example, it takes much more energy to transport food by plane than boat. Also, the weight of the food is a factor—it takes more energy to transport a heavy pineapple than a lighter bag of mixed greens. Eating locally produced food produces less global warming pollution because the distance from the farm to you is shorter, and less fossil fuel is burned to transport it.

Eating locally also means eating in season. For example, Minnesota-grown strawberries are available in the spring, and they will have traveled a fraction of the distance of those flown in from South America in the dead of winter.

Supplying Americans with food takes a lot of energy, and produces a lot of global warming. So what can you do about it?

Add a comment 3 comments

  1. Ross Abbey

    10.16.2011

    Rajendra Pachaur, head of the U.N.’s Nobel Prize–winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggests cutting back on meat consumption order to combat climate change.

    “Give up meat for one day [per week] at least initially, and decrease it from there . . . . In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity.”

    Source: Sept. 10, 2008 Time Magazine article, “Meat: Making Global Warming Worse” (http://ti.me/nJaFvs).

    “So is Pachauri right that going vegetarian can save the planet? (At least the 68-year-old Indian economist practices what he preaches.) It’s true that giving up that average 176 lb. of meat a year is one of the greenest lifestyle changes you can make as an individual. . . .

    In a 2006 report, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that worldwide livestock farming generates 18% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions — by comparison, all the world’s cars, trains, planes and boats account for a combined 13% of greenhouse gas emissions.”

  2. Sherry Molina

    12.05.2011

    I totally agree, staying healthy and saving the environment is the way it should be. Eating organic food is close to impossible these days unless you grow one in your home some foods claim to be 100% organic but can you really believe them? We should be proactive when it comes to our health, health is truly our wealth.

  3. Gnarum

    08.20.2012

    Interesting. It´s amazing to see how by chosing our way of feeding we can be also supporting cleaner ways of living.