Earth Day has happened as an annual event since 1970 and has grown into a global celebration of environmental awareness and sustainability.
Many of the broader issues raised and discussed as part of Earth Day are directly relevant to our food system: the shift into plant-based eating, regenerative agriculture, food waste, local food systems and biodiversity.
For thefoodpeople these topics sit as part of our megatrends, Taking a Stance and Re-Wild. The environmental and social impacts of our food system are multifaceted. When you combine global emissions from things like: food waste, broader agriculture, deforestation and transportation, the current global food system is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Not only do the emissions impact climate change, but also the current system disproportionately neglects low-income communities in developing countries.
In our recent 'In Conversation With…' episode, Anthony Warner (aka the Angry Chef), discussed his new book - Ending Hunger The Quest to Feed the World Without Destroying It. Anthony spoke about what's wrong with global food systems and how the current food system can't sustain feeding over nine billion people by 2050.
As awareness of environmental impact increases, so do the variety of alternative food propositions and diet options that are available.
Launched some five years ago, we're seeing a renewed traction and awareness in favour of a climatarian diet. The diet's primary goal is to reverse climate change by focussing on foods that have the smallest carbon footprint. Despite being healthier for the planet and the individual, the climatarian diet has also proved popular because it concentrates on a holistic approach to food rather than strict, often polarised beliefs. For example, the climatarian diet focuses on reducing carbon across all areas of your diet instead of either a strict vegan or meat eating agenda, a focus on the collaborative effort - such as; fewer animal products or a flexitarian approach, sourcing local produce, and ethical, sustainable farming methods.
Supporting consumers to make informed decisions about their food, a number of QSR brands and fast casual brands like Just Salad or Panera Bread are developing carbon counting or carbon conscious menus. In addition, a number of FMCG food brands like Quorn and Oatly are opting for carbon footprint labelling. However, alongside labelling, we're seeing entire food propositions driving into the consumer need for climate positive food choices.
Clearly, one of the motivations for consumers to opt into a fully or partial plant-based diet is environmental consciousness. Retailers, brands and food service operators alike have embraced the opportunity to make plant-based food a choice that is exciting and delicious. But it's not all about plant-based.
We recently spoke to Lily Bovey, founder of Ground - the Green Red Meat Company, about how they leverage regenerative agricultural practices to reduce environmental impact and produce a climate positive burger proposition.
One of the key elements of the 2021 Earth Day programme is Food Prints for the Future, a programme that encourages us to consider and assess the environmental impacts associated with growing, producing, transporting and storing our food. There are clearly many factors, including: access, affordability, health and culture that help shape our decisions about what we eat.
There is not one prescribed diet for everybody, but Earth Day serves as a point of reflection for us all as individuals, businesses and institutions to consider our Food Print and how we work to reduce it.
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