Eat local, grow local, go the organic way and grow green and make green choices. The issue of sustainable food choices has always been difficult to exercise due to a combination of factors. This is mainly attributed to limited choices, as a result of poverty, ignorance, lack of information about making green choices and green living, little knowledge of food values and also lack of knowledge of how much carbon footprints and environmental impact foodstuffs have on the ecological balance.
guest column: Peter Makwanya
Sustainable and informed food choices are aspects that we always take for granted, whether consciously or subconsciously. The other issue is lack of knowledge on how much carbon footprints certain foodstuffs have. A simple definition of carbon footprints is the total amount of greenhouse gases produced directly and indirectly, supporting human activities against nature, usually expressed in equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Although the knowledge of science is necessary in food choices, one does not need to be a scientist to make informed choices. But we cannot do away with basic knowledge and understanding of simple scientific concepts in this regard. As people in sustainable living, we need to acquaint ourselves, as much as possible, with the discourse of green living. For a long time, our food choices have often been influenced by our taste buds not rationale or the need to protect the environment, and this should not be the case.
Making informed food choices, buying or going green, assist us in making decisions that are better for our health and the environment.
Although basic knowledge and understanding of scientific issues are necessary in this regard, this presentation is not about calculating the number of calories needed to make informed food choices. Despite our limited knowledge of foodstuffs and scientific issues, the majority of people should know the nutritional value of food. An informed person should not eat everything that comes their way, as feeding and consumption discipline is required.
Food labels help consumers in making sustainable food choices and improve their livelihoods. This knowledge should always extend to empowering people to know the differences in nutrients. In some cultures, any foodstuff that is of nutritional value, is said to be full of vitamins, erroneously referring to proteins and fats in most cases. In these cultures, avoiding some particular type of foodstuff is very uncommon. Food is food and should be devoured. Obesity is also not seen as a disease, but a sign of good living. If one is slim they are classified as suffering or lacking the required food quantities. If somebody has a bulging tummy, then they are said to be in good health. It is this kind of thinking that needs to be deconstructed, so that people are not carried away by some funny fantasy. Food labels are not always taken seriously and people should always make it a habit to read these
Also, being able to assess the environmental impact of food is not every person’s preoccupation it is intellectual baggage and the majority of people are not aware of such issues. The role of carbon dioxide in greenhouse gas emissions is not known, neither is it taken into consideration. But as environmental communicators, we are saying, it is high time that people are empowered with such skills, which will not only improve sustainable food choices, but their livelihoods as well.
Research has it that beef production emits a lot of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, all of which have negative impacts on the environment. Livestock, although they are important for rearing, prestige and wealth creation, contribute about 14% to global greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock also consume lots of water, degrade land and pastures contributing to ecological imbalance of nature.
Investing in organic foodstuffs and consuming less red meat is environmentally sustainable.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on: email@example.com