Would you believe us if we told you that the food we eat has a pretty significant impact on the environment? Food production actually accounts for about 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It plays a role in pollution, the depletion of phosphorus, and the impact chemical products such as herbicides and pesticides can have. It’s vitally important that food is produced in a way that protects our natural resources rather than depleting them – this would be considered unsustainable, as these resources will one day run out. To celebrate World Food Day (16th October), we have compiled a list of different ways your business can support and promote sustainability in the food industry here in Ireland.
1. Offer Food That Is In Season
Not only is food in season better for the environment, but eating seasonally is better for your health as it lacks chemicals and oozes nutrients. It’s safe to say it is the fresher and tastier option too! Food Space is a contract catering initiative that works with Irish businesses to promote seasonal eating. Why not look into bringing them to a canteen near you, let’s say where you work maybe?!
2. Offer Local Food
By offering local food you will be promoting fresh food that is in season. You’re killing two birds with one stone – that was an expression, not literal! You will be supporting local farmers and suppliers. This way you know exactly where your food is coming from which benefits your staff and customers. Buying locally also means less transport costs and less waste. Talamh Beo is a fantastic grassroots, farmer-led organisation that brings the land, people and community together and supports local production.
3. Offer More Plant-Based Meals
Ireland, being an agricultural country, consumes twice the global average of meat. Food production accounts for 40% of global land use and around 70% of freshwater worldwide is drawn from lakes and rivers to service agriculture. So, plant-based diets are looking like the most sustainable option for the environment, don’t you think?Actually, 52% of European consumers said they would be willing to pay up to 20% more for sustainable food, so you may even benefit financially from the change! Plant-based diets are also the healthiest meal plans as they are high in fiber which benefits the gut and the heart hugely, lowers blood pressure and improves cholesterol. Businesses like My Goodness Food are leading the way in Ireland in plant-based meals. Check out their yummy meat-free menu, it might even give you some juicy inspiration for your own business.
4. Reduce Food Waste
A whopping one third of all food produced is thrown out or lost along the production line. In Ireland, one million tonnes of food is wasted annually but by sourcing local food and food that is in season, you can decrease your food waste – uh, oh, there goes a third bird!
To find out more ways to reduce your food waste follow this link.
5. Reduce Plastic
Plastic packaging has a huge impact on the carbon footprint of food production. By sourcing local produce you will reduce the amount of packaging that comes with food. “This is just too easy”, you might say, “by buying local I will have ticked off Sustainable Travel Ireland’s 5 ways to promote food sustainability.” Amazing? We know! Now all you have to do is get in touch with those local suppliers!
For more information on sustainable food production, Origin Green is a programme that enables the food industry to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets that respect the environment and serve local communities more effectively.