It may come as a surprise to learn that livestock production is a major contributor to global emissions of greenhouse gasses. In fact, around 14 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission totals can be traced to the meat and dairy industry – this is roughly equivalent to the amount of GHG’s emitted from tailpipes of cars and trucks across the globe.
These staggeringly high emissions from livestock production are a result of a variety of factors. For example, more resources are required to produce livestock than any other crops. Higher amounts of feed, land, and shelter are needed to produce one pound of meat than one pound of grain. This is because animals require high amounts of feed in order to grow to sizes where they can be sent to market. Livestock also constantly emit gasses through the creation of manure – releasing high amounts of methane into the atmosphere. In fact, according to the FAO, livestock production accounts for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 53 percent of nitrous oxide emissions.
Recently, China has sought to reduce meat consumption by writing diet guidelines where meat products take up a smaller part of the plate. This is in part an effort to address a rise in obesity, diabetes, and other diet related illnesses in the country. It will also try to curb demand for meat in a country where consumption is expected to be triple that of the United States by 2030. If Chinese citizens follow the government’s dietary advice, global agricultural emissions would drop 12 percent as supply of meat falls with demand. Global totals would fall by 1.5 percent. This reduction would be roughly equivalent to the entire footprint of France and Belgium combined.
The impact of meat production on greenhouse gas emissions sheds light on the power we all have within our own diets. Shifting our tastes and preferences away from meat products (especially red meat) will not only have health benefits, but will also dramatically decrease ones environmental impact. It is not necessary to be a vegetarian to see benefits. Whittling down portions or giving up meat just one or two days a week can have an enormous impact on a person’s carbon footprint. There are many ways that households can address their environmental impact, from choosing what cars they drive to recycling and composting habits. Changing up one’s diet is an effective and potentially tasty way to make a difference.
For more information check out Vox’s article here.
2016 has seen the advent of two groundbreaking bills that seek to remedy one of the most pressing issues of our time, food waste. Sponsored by Chellie Pingree (D-ME), the Food Recovery Act and the Food Date Labeling Act seek to curb food waste and ensure that what cannot be curbed is rerouted into food recovery networks. Organizations like The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP), food policy advocates, and consumers at large stand to gain from such legislation.
The Food Recovery Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation that tries to combat food waste in several ways. It targets consumers, schools, farms, grocery stores, restaurants, and the federal government itself. Four must know pieces of the bill include:
- Awareness campaigns centered on informing people that current “sell-by” dates on food packaging are determined by manufacturer quality standards, and not scientific research.
- Expansion of current legislation giving tax deductions to businesses that donate food to organizations serving the food insecure (like Campus Kitchens!).
- Creation of an Office of Food Recovery dedicated to measuring food waste and implementing food recovery programs.
- Support of various food waste-to-energy programs such as those that turn food waste into biofuels.
The Food Date Labeling Act bolsters the strength of the Food Recovery Act. It seeks to create a uniform national date labeling system with the intention of preventing waste. Creating standards that unify the language and meaning of food labels will reduce confusion, simplify regulation, and boost efficiency in our food system. Consumers will be able to reduce food waste and curb spending on unused food. The bill also allows food to be sold after a quality date passes, allowing edible food to avoid the landfill, and instead ending up on consumer plates.
On Wednesday, May 25th, the House Agriculture Committee held its first full hearing concerning the two pieces of legislation, and CKP was in attendance. After the hearing, CKP joined other food recovery focused organizations like Misfit Juice, Food Recovery Network, MEANS database, and the US Department of Agriculture at the Food Waste Fair on the Hill. The Food Waste Fair helped educate hill staffers and congressmen and women on the issues of food waste and food insecurity. Many politicians were eager to learn more about the issues and what organizations do to prevent food waste.
We hope events like the Food Waste Fair will bring even more support from policy advocates for both bills. Incentivizing donations, understanding the nature of food waste, and preventing edible food from ending up in the landfill will not only improve food security but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions stemming from food waste. American consumers, as well as organizations like The Campus Kitchens Project can only benefit from their enactment.
-Jonah Mackay, CKP Summer Intern
For more information, visit Congressman Pingree’s web page.
To help end food waste on your college campus, learn how to start a Campus Kitchen here!