The Power of Your Plate
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Part One

As part of our new #ClimateActionFife project, EATS is excited to be planning some online cooking demonstrations. You may already be aware that a large part of our project has been focused on the redistribution of surplus food with the aim of reducing food waste. But do you know what really links the two? Is it obvious how what we buy for dinner, what we do with our ingredients and how we cook it is affecting the climate?

They may seem like disconnected issues, but there are a number of factors that make your everyday choices very powerful indeed.

LIMITED RESOURCES

Firstly, the issue EATS have been focused on – reducing the amount of waste from supermarkets, local businesses and within households. We like to say we are feeding bellies, not bins, but how does that help? There are two huge problems related to this, the first is simply the huge waste of resources extracted from the planet, potentially going through many stages, journeys and transformations before we eat it. So for what is scraped from our plates is effectively wasting all the energy that powered the farm machinery, the farmer’s time and energy planting and harvesting, the water it took to grow the crops, the fuel we burnt transporting the food to the food manufacturer, the materials used to package the food, and much more besides. In the UK, agriculture is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, 83% of ammonia air pollution, and 16% of water pollution. (What to eat Food and the environment | Friends of the Earth)

With limited resources this puts more and more pressure on the planet and all of its’ interconnected ecosystems. 

Have you heard of Earth Overshoot Day? This is the date in the calendar year when humanity has used as much ecological resources as the planet’s natural ecosystems can regenerate in the whole year – in 2020 Earth Overshoot Day was reached on August 22

WHERE DOES IT ALL GO?

Secondly when food is thrown in the bin, it can sometimes (though not always) end up on a landfill site. You may think food is biodegradable but in huge landfill sites food waste piles up high in a compacted area in anaerobic conditions, that is, without oxygen. In this scenario it creates methane gas and this can be more than 20 times more effective at heat-trapping than a molecule of carbon dioxide, as in leading to global warming. Alternatives at home can include composting and alternatives on a large scale can be to generate energy from this food waste, but ideally of course we would generate less waste in the first place!

Have you discovered this great new channel? Full of documentaries and short films with opportunities to take action – here’s a great film we found looking at one couple’s challenge to eat nothing but ‘wasted food’ Waterbear | Just Eat It 

THE FINANCIAL LOSS

Thirdly – the pennies on your plate. According to Food waste facts and figures | Greener Scotland avoidable food and drink waste costs Scottish households nearly £1.1billion in unnecessary purchases each year.

Scottish households throw away 600,000 tonnes of food waste every year with a value of up to £437 per year per household, not in our pockets! 

We may think the majority of waste is coming from supermarkets and business and that we are helpless to make change. However 61% of food waste in Scotland occurs in the home so we can really make a difference by thinking about every single thing we put on our plates. Food waste: The environmental impact | How To Waste Less (zerowastescotland.org.uk)

There are signs of progress as people become more aware of the impact of wasting food. Between us, across the UK we’re saving just under £5 billion a year compared with 2007, not to mention saving 5.0 million tonnes of CO2 – that’s like taking 2.1 million cars off the road. (LFHW) 

If you would like to learn more and help make even more of a reduction in the carbon emissions of food waste we recommend some further reading and listening. Dive into these links and be inspired to make a change! 

Climate Action Fife is a Fife-wide partnership project, bringing together individuals, communities, local government and businesses to tackle the climate emergency. It is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Fund. #ClimateActionFife

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