Future food is something that we need to think about right away. The environment is dealing with lots of things currently. Food has the third biggest impact on earth’s ecological cycle and environmental condition after energy and transport. But the good part is people are taking an interest in what is good and what is bad. They want to know if their actions have negative or positive impacts.
By 2050 it is estimated that the world population will go up to 10 BILLION People, and sustaining them with unlimited food choices is a very big challenge currently. Just to fulfil our desires of eating something continuously which has a negative effect on the planet is a selfish act of dietary habit.
So what decides what food is good and what is bad. There are many factors to examine a food like its nutritional value, its quantity ratio, its colour, the type of food it is, and then there are environmental factors like how much water is required to cultivate it, what is the land use, how is it being soiled and grown, what is the carbon footprint of the food and how the food is being generated and transported ethically. We are going to talk about the environmental side of food on this blog.
Related : WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY
For example, almond is great food – the almond butter, almond smoothie, almond flour or almond milk..all are great choices in terms of nutritional values but is it environmentally friendly..NO! Almond takes lots of water to be cultivated which result is diverting the natural rivers and water channels to fulfil the requirements due to which the natural level of water level lowers and the chances of the depletion of fishes and water creatures become very prominent.
Future food is like a food choice for everyone to select smartly what needs to be consumed more and what needs to be avoided completely. Future food decides the sustainability of food chains for our future generation. We need to be conscious enough to choose smartly what is required at the end of the day.
HOW FOOD IS IMPACTING THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE HEALTH OF AN INDIVIDUAL
Do you know that 75% of our whole global food supplies or our food ingredients come from ONLY 12 plants and 5 animals? This is just crazy and 60% of our energy and calorie sources are coming from only three staple foods: RICE, MAIZE and WHEAT.
So what is happening currently is we have narrowed our diets too much. Restricting our old choices and narrowing the types of food we eat creates a lot of strain in the environment. Because there is a huge demand for certain items, the methods of generating them again and again and cultivating them are becoming very intense. Repeated demands and a struggle to match up to the supply is a great factor in unethical agricultural practices.
A. HUGE DEMAND OF NARROWED DIETS AND EATING PRACTICES
Limiting our diet to few staples and relying on them is resulting in depletion of lots of diversities of plant species. It’s is said that 16000 varieties of rice in Thailand has narrowed into 37 types in past years and 80% of the varieties of cabbage, tomatoes and peas have already been depleted. It is believed that narrowed diets and not exploring other eatable foods are hampering agricultural diversity. Here’s how :
– Over using the pesticides and fertilizers to generate more crops
– monoculture farming,
– repeated harvesting
– exploiting the land use
– depletion of the top soil
– developing soil into pest and pathogen homesLoss of nutrition from our food
– leading to climate change
– eruption of disease in humans
– damaging the wildlife
– entering the water system
– disturbing the natural cycles of the planet.
B. RELYING OF ANIMAL BASED PROTEINS
Another factor by which the agriculture industry is struggling is we as humans rely on animal-based foods. Basically animal products.
Consuming animal products put an added burden on the agriculture industry which is anyways thriving hard to be sustainable. Agriculture takes about 25% of share in emitting greenhouse gases around the planet out of which 60% is from animal products.
Reaching the animal products to your doorstep needs comparative more water, more land use and more greenhouse led cycle than plants supply.
MEAT in any form of processed materials, raw, dry, condiments or factory farms practices is non-sustainable and very resources wrenching. Eggs and dairy are also emission-intensive. Livestock farming and its workability, production and supply create lots of dirty discharge and liquid waste into the rivers and the water bodies which is hampering the whole ecological cycle.
BENEFITS OF FUTURE FOOD AND DIVERSIFIED DIETS
FACTS CHECK : Do you know that there are 30000-50000 edible plants in the world, but we are only consuming 150-200 plant species currently.
So repeatedly eating the same foods that are a staple to your food ingredients habits and eating food that is not well suited for the sustainability of the environment has numerous disadvantages which we already mentioned above. What are some of the benefits that consuming a diversified diet encourages Agrodiversity and eating future foods? Following various diversified diets will :
It will have lower impact on the planet
It is affordable and saves you money
It tastes good because its seasonal
It adds variety to your plate
Increase the intake of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants
Add the nutrients variety
Improve global food supply
MOST COMMONLY FOOD ITEMS EATEN IN THE WORLD
MAIZE OR CORN
WHAT IS THE 9 BEST FUTURE FOOD CATEGORY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
BEANS – MUNG BEANS, COWPEAS, BLACK TURTLE BEANS, FAVA BEANS ,RED MUNG
Beans and pulses are from legumes family. This is super environmental conscious future food because they take nitrogen from the air and use it in plants. Nitrogen is a greenhouse gas that contribute to the greenhouse effect on the earth. It is very rich in proteins, fibre and can be made in varied food cuisines. It suits well with salads, curries, sauces and sauces. It is also an excellent swap for meat sausages and patties
CEREALS – BUCKWHEAT, FINGER MILLET, QUINOA , WILD RICE , AMARANTH
Cereals have always been past, present and future food. We all know cereals are the most important source. And has been part of us since many many years of human existence. Rice, maize wheat is the main source which is consumed mostly in the whole world but switching to more varied options for nutritional value and diversified diets and improving soil health we can switch to other future food cereal options to improve agricultural bio ecosystem and soil cycle.
VEGETABLES AND FRUITS – OKRA, TOMATO, WINTER RADISH, PUMPKIN – LEAVES AND FLOWERS AND ALL SEASONAL AND LOCAL FRUITS – FIGS, APPLES
Vegetables have carbohydrates and fibre and vitamins. They have huge water content which is supremely good for health. So eating vegetable and fruits that are seasonal and locally available and are aggressively exported from other parts of the world is very good to consume and is the future food for coming generations.
ROOTS AND TUBERS- WINTER RADISH, YAM, SWEET PATATO , LOTUS ROOTS
The good part about root vegetables it is very sustainable as you can use the leaves as well as the roots and mostly all the plant is consumed. You can store root vegetables for a longer time and store it for after use. Typically high in carbohydrates and energy sources, they can be baked, roasted and even used in desserts. Some root vegetables and Tubers are rich in vitamins and minerals as well, so overall its a very valuable sources and indeed a future food.
SPROUTS – KIDNEY BEAN SPROUT, CHICK PEE SPROUTS , ALFALFA SPROUTS
Sprouting is a great future food. It is extremely nutritious and it is known that the sprouts are basically 2-3 times more nutritious than the parent plant. The only concern is to look after the bacterial growth as sprouts are grown in warm humid and moist environment so something there is a risk of bacteria growth. Sprouts are widely used in salads, soups, noddles, curries and fried.
GREENS – BEET GREENS, KALE, MORINGA, PAK CHOY, SPINACH, WATER CRESS , RED CABBAGE,
Everyone loves greens, everyone should love greens. They are full of fibre, vitamins, minerals and very low in calories. They grow very fast and are used in almost all the cuisines of the world. They are cooked, wilted, steamed, eaten raw and even fried. Consuming greens is definitely a perfect future food.
SEEDS – FLAX, HEMP, SESAME, WALNUTS
Seeds and nuts are little powerhouses of nutrients. They are high in protein, calories, they taste good, and are rich in vitamin E and is widely used in salads, desserts, to curries and snacks. Seeds and nuts are the future food and should be included in most of our diets and definitely in our future food.
Seaweed is nutritious and very important for the planet. The aquatic ecosystem depends on them for all the oxygen production and 1/2 of all oxygen from the earth is produced by them. Mind-blowing! Rich in antioxidant proteins and fatty acids, seaweed goes well with sushi and savoury snacks and topping for soups salads and delicious seasoning. Since it has a meat-like flavor it acts as an addition to plant-based meals for people who are just switching to plant-based and love the meaty flavour. It’s very exceptional future food.
MUSHROOMS – ENOKI MUSHROOMS, WHITE BUTTON MUSHROOMS
Quite an underdog kind of food. Mushrooms have a wide wide range of variety and types. They are rich in vitamin B and Vitamin D. It has a very unique flavour and many people match the aroma as a meat replacement an aroma on this. Mushrooms are the future food that lots of people tend to overlook. It is widely used in soups, baking snacks, pasta and eaten as a vegetable although they are classified fungi.
WHAT IS THE 11 WORST FOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
We all know that banana is a superfood but the problem with the banana is its average travel distance and the spoilage rate. Banana is the most consumed fruit in the world and is widely grown in the Philippines and South America. Now transporting the same from these parts of the world to another part of the world like US, Europe and far eastern parts makes it high carbon-emitting plus the spoilage rate is so high which creates lots of wastage. Definitely not a great future food.
Too much White Sugar is bad for our health and our body. It destroys natural habitat as it requires lots of water and use lots off pesticides and fertilizers and also the production of sugar is very air pollution driven. Its ground cover to irrigation supply amount is very high and it also causes a decrease in the level of natural groundwater level. Replacement of sugar as future food should be changed.
Increasing demand for avocado all over the world has led to various detrimental effects on the planet. Avocado used as much as 2-3 times of water to be grown and all this while the increased demand of avocado has taken up to 1700 acres of forest land in one year. That’s insane. Also because it is mostly exported, lots of chemical coating and use of woollens to pack the avocados lead to various environmental negative impacts. It is an important future food but is it worth it?
Undoubtedly the worst food for Argo industry, beef production has severely high land use and very high water requirements. And the topping on the cake. It produces 11 times more greenhouse gases and 150 times more land than wheat and potatoes. A strict no-no for the food industry currently. Indeed not future food.
Another meat product. Sheep has similar problems as beef. It’s is ignored because it is smaller in size, less popular and has slightly less carbon emission compared to beef. But still has a lot of carbon impacts. For the same reasons, it should be avoided.
FARMED FISH , PORK AND CHICKEN
For the same reason as been and lamb, factory farming of chicken, pork and fishes contribute a lot in carbon editions. Overfishing of tuna and salmon is leading to the disturbance of the marine ecosystem. Shark finning is also very unethical in terms of seafood category as too much fishing of sharks is leading to the imbalance in the aquatic life as shark are the top predators.
Read here : MEAT AND THE ENVIRONMENT IMPACT
One of the most eaten food in the world consumes a lot of water around 1 kg of rice takes 2500 litres of water to produce and that’s huge. There is also the study that says that a lot of methane emissions which contribute to global warming is being generated by wetland and paddy feeds.
palm oils mostly used in all cosmetics and as a raw material oil base for food products, is leading to huge deforestations and gas emissions. The increasing demand for palm oil all over the world and burning of palm forests to regrow them has a huge impact on global carbon emissions. Avoid using palm products like oils, wax, and look of palm-free cosmetics.
Coffee has a very bigger land use because the plantation needs a big land to grow and the ratio of plant to fruit is pretty less. The demand for coffee beans is crazy which leads to ethical farming practices and then exporting coffee from one part to another is very carbon-emitting and unethically sourced. Switching to home dried and herbal tea is a good option to choose and replace coffee.
Very water-intensive almonds need lots of water to grow. Approximately 100ml almond milk needs 100 litres of water and 1 almond need 5 litres of water to grow. So switching off you almond intake and replacing them with better alternatives like hemp milk, soy milk, coconut milk is a great option.
Cheese uses lots of milk to produce a little amount. Dairy crows release Lott’s of greenhouse gases like methane which is worst than carbon dioxide. Also, the cow is a feeder with lots of extra feed and medicines to yield more milk. That is why cheese is not a very good option to consume for sustainable food habits.
Read more : ALL ABOUT DAIRY INDUSTRY
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT
- Avoid red meat and instead, opt for locally caught fresh fish or chicken
- Replace meat-based proteins by plant-based proteins like beans and soya
- Replace almond milk with soy or rice milk alternative for vegans
- Avoid dairy and eggs
- Buy seasonal vegetables and fruits
- Go for local farmer markets
- Focus on plant-based diets
- Freeze your bananas to avoid spoilage
- Reduce the consumption of nut butter
EXCEPTION FOR FUTURE FOOD : SOY BEANS
Soy (Soya) beans are the true superfood. It is packed full of proteins. Soya has 36gms of proteins in 100gms. Also have various other vitamins K and B in addition to iron, manganese, phosphorus, copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and calcium. It has some tremendous products range from soy milk to tofu to edamame to tempeh to soy oil. It’s is widely popular in China and South-East Asian countries and now getting the hold in the central and western world as well. It’s plant-based and is equally impactful as pork and 3 times of an egg.
Then what is the problem ???
Actually the 3/4th quarter of the soya is used as animal fodder. Cultivation of soya is huge in terms of feeding the livestock and factory farms. Soya is fed by most of the industrialized farming animals and only 1 third is consumed by humans. So what is happening is the excessive eating of meat and animal products are encouraging the growth of soya very rapidly which in turn causing a lot of deforestation and loss in soil nutrients and damaging natural ecosystems.
Poultry is the buggiest feeder of soya followed by pork, dairy and beef which results in the non-sustainable factor addition on soya production.
What can you do ?
Again by not relying on soya as animal feed and look for better options, the intake of soya will decrease by them which in turn will avoid more deforestation. More inclination towards plant-based diets will also decrease the demand for soya as animal feed. This will balance our delicate natural biodiversity and we will be available with the impactful source of protein that Soy is.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR FUTURE FOOD – STEP BY STEP GUIDE
1. LOOK FOR PLANT BASED FOODS OVER ANIMAL PRODUCTS
Going for the plant-based meals is the easiest way you can streamline and reduce environmental impacts and carbon emission. Just by ditching dairy, eggs, animal products like eggs, honey and meat and focusing on fresh fruits, vegetables whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. You can figure out a balanced meal and choose to follow for your natural well being.
2. QUANTIFY YOUR NUTRITION – BASICALLY HOW MUCH YOU NEED
To reduce unnecessary food stalking and buying too much is not a good practice to choose your food. Do meal preps. See how much kcal(calories) you need and plan your food accordingly. Just making something that is too much for you, wastes the food and resources and money. So quantify your nutrition and eat accordingly to go zero waste.
3. EVALUATE THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT – CLIMATE CHANGE AND LAND USE
Before you buy anything for yourself, do evaluate what is the environmental impact of the food you are consuming, is it coming or flown away from a far land, does it use lots of water, does it practice unethical sourcing and farming, is it harming the natural habitat in anyways. Ask these questions to you and then opt for the food you are eating.
4. FOLLOW CULTURE, SEASON AND THE LOCALLY GROWN
Socio-cultural sustainability is very important to achieve a completely sustainable lifestyle. Supporting handmade products and buying and eating traditionally is a great way to achieve ultimate sustainability.
Related : BENEFITS OF HANDMADE PRODUCTS
Following your cuisines, your culture your local fruits and vegetation and eating what grows in your locality is supremely important to you. Make sure the food to naturally preserve at home when it is available in the season.
Read here : HOW TO PRESERVE FOOD AT HOME
Filter the food according to your area and location and see what is the local general practice to eat and what is seasonal and readily available in the farmers market near you.
5. SUPPLY CHAIN EVALUATION – HOW THE FOOD IS REACHING YOU
Some things you need in your daily life that aren’t available in the local markets. You need to go out and buy it. That is not a problem. Look for healthier and more eco options. Read labels, read hoe the product is reaching you.
Choose food products with less waste and ecofriendly packaging. Choose glass jar single-use plastic jars. Shop in bulk stores, carry your own bags etc are some of the things you can opt for when you go out to buy your products.
Read more : 70 EASY WAYS TO ADAPT TO ECOFRIENDLY LIFE
CONCLUSION – EATING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
So what we take from what we read just now is choose your food well, focus on more and more plant-based foods. Explore new things to eat. Don’t follow the same wholesome routine to consume the same things in your diet. Look for sustainable future food options that don’t put a burden on your taste buds and the environment.
Choose the future food for your health and more important the health of your Mother Earth and the environment.