The Food We Eat is One of the Most Important Ways to Take Action on Climate Change

Posted on Tuesday, 2 June 2020 under Stories

Today, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we are proud to launch our Climate Solutions Story Series. This year’s theme is climate action. In this unprecedented time of global uncertainty amid the pandemic, we have the opportunity to make change for the future. According to the Earth Day Network, “Climate change represents the biggest challenge of the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.”

This is a time for transformation. We have the opportunity to adjust to a new normal and learn how our everyday actions impact our environment. Together we can do better. Through our story series, we will illustrate the strong link between food choices and climate change.  We are fortunate that many climate solutions to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration of agriculture and food systems already exist in BC.

The global pandemic is a wake-up call. Click To Tweet

This crisis has impacted and disrupted our current food environment. Now is the time for everyone to ask themselves what actions we can take to create a resilient, climate-friendly local food system. The food we eat and how it is grown can and does have a significant impact on climate.

In January 2019, the EAT-Lancet Report says, “a radical transformation of the global food system is urgently needed. Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability on Earth.”  Every day, 2 to 8 times a day, we make food choices. The choices that we make not only have positive or negative impacts on our health but can make significant impacts on climate. According to this science-based report, “a diet rich in plant-based foods with fewer animal source foods confers both improved health and environmental benefits for people and the planet.”  This is very much in line with the updated Canada’s Food Guide that encourages Canadians to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods, plant proteins, and less animal protein.

garden greens in the ground on a farm

Across the United States and Canada, some of the largest meat processors are closing due to massive outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers who work in close proximity to one another. These shutdowns could severely impact the meat supply for grocery stores. The potential reduction of animal protein in grocery stores could force eaters to consume less or find another source. Buying meat, dairy, and eggs directly from a local farmer is an excellent option for consumers. This gives people the opportunity to learn how the farmers raise their animals and what steps they are taking to offer climate-friendly meat.

Farmer’s Markets have been deemed an essential service. The BC Association of Farmers Markets (BCAFM) is leading their member markets in working together to change how they are doing business in light of the pandemic. Getting to know where your food comes from and how it is grown can help support your daily food choices.

An initiative from Denmark led by Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Transforming Food Systems Under a Changing Climate, released a report in October 2019 called Changing diets and transforming food systems. The report states, “Behavioural insights can help shift consumers towards positive dietary choices. People’s daily food environments play a huge role in determining the dietary choices we make, and what we learn in childhood strongly shapes our long-term preferences.”

The thoughtful food choices we make today will impact our food environment and are steps towards building a resilient, climate-friendly local food system.

Now is the time to learn about where your food comes from and how it is grown, raised, and harvested. This Earth Day we urge you to consider the choices you make now and the impacts that those choices have on your health and the health of our planet.

Follow us over the coming year with our Climate Solutions Story Series, as we dig deeper into the food and climate connections. Determining the best choices for you and your family will not be easy because there is no climate-friendly certification and no labels to watch out for. We know that agriculture has the huge potential to mitigate climate change. As eaters, we can choose to support climate-friendly farmers with our shopping dollars.

Over this series, we will look at the different practices farmers use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase organic carbon in the soil. You will meet some of BC’s carbon farmers and learn about regenerative agriculture. Together we will explore carbon sequestration and learn about how foodlands are an essential part of atmospheric carbon reduction. It is also very important to reduce our foodprint and reduce food waste. We will explore how individuals are making a difference and how our choices matter.

Tensions and controversy exist between calls for an increase in plant-based diets and choosing climate-friendly meat options. We will introduce you to climate-friendly meat producers and learn about their methods and the positive impacts they are making towards climate solutions.

Tackling the climate crisis is daunting. We know that farmers are on the front lines and experience the drastic impacts climate change has on our environment. Action is needed. The food we eat and how it is grown can and does have a significant impact on climate. Together we will learn. Together we can make transformative change.