4 Best Ways to Fight Climate Change with our Cooking
Fighting climate change is top of many people’s minds these days, and for good reason. Between melting ice caps, burning forests, and oversized storms, climate change has long stopped being a future worry and is clearly a present one. Unfortunately, agriculture is a heavily problematic industry, so how can we fight climate change while still producing enough food to feed a hungry population? Here are four ways we can help, ordered in terms of effectiveness.
Throw Away Less Food
The biggest thing that we can do is throw away less food. Food waste makes up to 8% of our global carbon emissions, and if food waste was a country, it’d be the third most carbon emitting globally. These statistics might shock people, because it’s hard to picture any of us throwing out that much food, but while our personal food habits can be wasteful, much of the food waste is from farming and businesses. Reducing food waste therefore needs to be a multi-pronged effort. Donating and volunteering with food sharing programs like Feeding America can help the planet as they help to keep your neighbors from going hungry. Food sharing programs work directly with restaurants, grocery stores, and farms to collect unsold produce and distribute it to the needy.
Another innovative food waste solution is to look for “ugly food” shopping such as Imperfect Produce. Grocery stores have aesthetic standards for their produce to entice shoppers to buy them, so perfectly edible produce that just happened to grow a little wonky or discolored is left to rot. Companies like Imperfect Produce step in and sell those items to you at a discount, so you get cheaper food and help save the planet. And finally, while many of these solutions are about pressuring suppliers to be more green, there are still consumer side solutions as well. Just be sure to have plenty of food scrap recipes on hand, the easiest being vegetable cutting broth.
Eat a Plant Based diet.
We all knew this would be high up on the list. Animal diets are so bad for the environment because of how energy inefficient they are by definition, because we need to grow plant based food to keep the animals alive in the first place, making cows, pigs, and other farm animals into carbon and labor expensive middle-men. Shifting to a vegetarian or vegan diet can reduce your carbon emissions by 63% to 70% respectively. And to illustrate other environmental effects, according to the UCLA, one pound of beef costs between 2000-8000 gallons of water, whereas one pound of tofu costs 302 gallons of water to produce. The statistics are clear, eating less meat is a huge way to help the planet, and whether your reducing your portions, going meatless dinners, meatless mondays, vegetarian, pescitarian, or vegan, any cut is helping greatly and the more meat you cut the better.
Cook Over Clean Stoves
Third best cooking related activity to help global warming is to cook over clean stoves. What does this mean? It is estimated that around 4.3 million people die prematurely each year because they don’t have access to modern, efficient cooking appliances. While a couple barbecues in the summer isn’t terrible for your health, if you only have coal, wood, open flames, and crop residue to burn that is an awful lot of smoke to inhale, as well as getting released into the environment. Furthermore, in the undeveloped nations where this happens, oftentimes a main source of fuel fire is illegally harvested wood from local harvests, so upgrading to clean cooking will help reduce habitat loss as well. Supporting initiatives such as Envirofit and the Clean Cooking Alliance will help create clean, modernized cooking appliances that are cheap enough to deliver on mass, and to get it into the hands of the people who need it.
Last we have composting. While composting your waste is not the most impactful item on this list, don’t think that means it doesn’t have a large impact overall. The U.S. alone sends 167 million tons of waste to the landfill each year, and around half of all household waste is considered compostable. Remember, composting is more than just food scraps, lawn trimmings, wood waste, and even paper can also be composted. Yes, just as long as you’re not using glossy or colored paper, your shredded paper waste can easily be a part of your compost pile. Waste in landfills leak toxins, create CO2 emissions, and in general is a heavily unsustainable practice. Composting is an easy way to reduce your wastefulness, and reduce your climate impact, while also saving you a bit of money on your gardening. Get started today!
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed our article, be sure to follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more. What ways do you reduce your climate impact with your cooking? Let us know in the comments!