Sustainability with impact on your health and food inequality

October 16th is World Food Day and as a foodie I want to raise some awareness on food inequality

In May I was debating on stage with some fellow food entrepreneurs how we can feed the future. The event was called Future Forward – Feeding the Future and organized by TheGarage in Amsterdam. The event lasted 2.5 hours, but I scribbled down some notes, to help you make impactful choices:

  • Impactful for the planet
  • Impactful for the people near and far
  • Impactful for your own health

Food inequality feels far away, but it’s not…

Like many of you, I grew up in the privileged west of the world. My mom didn’t have a lot of money to spare when I grew up, but there was always food on the table. That’s a luxury many people in other parts of the world to this day still don’t have…

There is a lot of food inequality in the world. In many western countries, we throw 30% of all food away. It’s raised and produced just to end up in the garbage. On the other end of the scale, there are still people suffering from hunger. That’s f*cked up…

Sustainability and poverty often feel like topics that are abstract topics far away. Out of sight and out of mind.  That’s normal. That’s human nature.

I still believe that it’s my responsibility to make sure I waste as little food and resources as possible. It is not only more sustainable for the planet, but it also frees up resources that can be used to feed people in need.

Sustainability without impact: Why trying to save water by showering shorter is bullshit

 If you are trying to shower shorter, you are wasting your time and effort. Do something that matters and has an impact!

Many people try to shower shorter because they think it’s better for the environment and better for their wallet. That’s great in theory but its bullsh*t in practice. If you shower 1 minute shorter throughout the whole year, assuming that you shower 5 times a week, you save about 2000 liters of water. That sounds like a lot.

The price for 1 cubic liter (that’s 1,000 liters) of water here in Amsterdam is €1.10. That means you effectively save €2.20 a year by trying to rush in the shower almost every day. However, producing one beef burger takes about 30004000 liters of water.

So in practice, by buying 1 Big Mac you are completely wiping out your entire sustainability efforts of an entire year – both in terms of money and in terms of water.

It makes a lot more sense to eat less meat than to shower shorter. Simply because it has a lot more impact on the environment.

Sustainability with impact: Less meat, less convenience foods, less soda

Do you want to do something for the environment that has a real impact?

  • Eat less red meat
  • Avoid convenience food
  • Drink less soda

The red meat industry (so pork and beef) are one of the biggest polluters on the planet and one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Not only in terms of greenhouse gasses but also in terms of water consumption. Eating LESS red meat is good for your body and good for the environment. With less space and resources needed for cattle, we can grow more crops for people.

Check out this short, non-preachy video about it:

Convenience foods are bad for you and for the environment. A factory-made convenience meal results in about 30% more emissions than a home-cooked meal. Even though meals are made in bigger quantity, which in theory is more efficient, packaging, toxins, water pollution, and extra transportation come into play.

They are also often highly processed and you would be better off if you would cook the same meal at home. It’s a convenience meal – but convenience comes at a cost.

Drinking less soda is also a really good idea. In order to produce 1 liter of cola, 70 liters of water are needed. That’s a shocking number!

Coca Cola claims that it only takes 2 liters of water, but a professor of water management at the University of Twente (Dutch source) has calculated that the whole process from growing sugar beet in a developing country, to plastic bottle in the supermarket near you, takes about 70 liters of water in total. 70 liters of water for 1 liter of cola… (some claim it’s even 370 liters)

So, eat less red meat, avoid convenience foods, and reduce the amount of soda you are drinking. Or in other words:

  • Eat more vegetables
  • Cook more often at home
  • Drink more water

I am not saying you need to be vegan! It doesn’t always have to be black and white. Just eat fewer animal products. If it helps you to put a label on to it, call yourself flexitarian. You are not only doing the planet a favor, but also leave more resources for people that need them, and live a healthier life.

Here are 7 vegetarian and vegan weekday dinner recipes to get you started.

I love to speak about topics that I’m passionate about. You can hire me as a speaker for events here.

Photos from Feeding the Future – The Garage – The Hoxton, taken by Debbie Trouerbach

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