The Global Food System
There is something that is structurally wrong with our food system and the evidence is overwhelming. If there’s one thing last week’s CIWF conference in Westminster taught me, it’s this: human beings are a disaster. We have all the facts that are pointing towards the ruin of the earth and yet we are happy to stand by and let things continue to take their disastrous course. Only once we’ve truly made a mess of the planet do we start to think about cleaning things up and unfortunately our present wealth has only been achieved with huge environmental and social cost.
We are living far above our fair share of the planet, because we seem to see ourselves as these mighty beings at the top of the food chain. Set apart from other animals because we dominate the earth, we feel we have some ultimate right to do as we please. The wealth in our society is all at the expense of nature. Our accessibility to vast amounts of meat, dairy and all other manner of ready to eat foods has become a ‘right’ for developed countries. And everyone wants a slice of the ready-to-eat pie.
Our consumption of meat has more than tripled since 1975 and our consumption of dairy has doubled. And as outlined by Sodexo’s Group Senior Vice President, Corporate Responsibility 'the capacity of our fridges has increased by 40% and our plate size has increased by nearly 36%'... and yet in the US almost 40% of all food is wasted.
One of the biggest revelations of this conference for me was that changing our home water consumption habits can barely begin to make a dent in the global water problem (although obviously we should try). If we really want to reduce our water consumption, then we should start with reducing our meat consumption. Over 70% of our water consumption goes to agriculture, and a great deal of this is for crops used to feed animals.
If I think about every time I see discarded boxes of fried chicken rolling around the streets of London, it seems pretty disgusting that we are able to toss this food to one side, when the feed that went into that now discarded animal could have actually been fed to someone desperately in need of nourishment.
A million animals are killed an hour in the US. It's a number that's impossible to even get your head around. Think of all the feed that has gone into those 1 million, and then think about that happening every hour. Think how many mouths they could feed as grain rather than animal product, which inefficiently converts into animal protein.
Every documentary I watch claims conflicting information that sugar is bad, fat is bad, meat is bad, animal products are bad. It's no wonder we are all so confused. For me it's still processed and industrially produced products that are the cause of our problems. And avoiding them day-to-day can be somewhat tricky.