We’ve previously discussed the issue of food waste and how it has been one of the more pressing issues for the food world. On the other side of the coin is the effect of food production on the environment. People have become more aware of the damage over-fishing has done on eco systems over the years, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. These shocking environmental issues for the following foods may have you thinking twice next time you do your weekly shop.
People have long enjoyed munching on a handful nuts as a snack, and they’ve become an essential food item for healthy eaters due to their high amounts of omega 3 fats. What people don’t know is the fact that 80% of the world’s almonds are grown in California which has been facing a record breaking drought over the last 4 years, and that it takes 1.1 gallon to produce a single almond! That was not a typo, and if we convert the number into the old metric system, 1.1 gallons is the equivalent to 4.1 litres.
Next time you’re eating some almonds, try add up how many litres that was used to produce them, and if it’s worth that effect on the environment.
Rice is a calorie source for half of the world’s population. Everybody eats it, the Spanish love their paella, it’s used to make sushi rolls, Italians are always eating risotto, and Irish people are fond of an aul’ chicken fried rice take away from their local Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, rice production accounts for 1/3 of the planets annual freshwater use. Oxfam are doing their best to fix this issue by implementing a new farming method which will allow for 50% more rice production but by using less water.
Bananas are amazing. Need an energy boost before work, eat one on your way in. Gym lovers can put down that chocolate milk and whey powder post-recovery drink and eat a banana or two instead. They are also great to bake with, we are partial to a slice of banana cake or banoffee pie! The downside is that the majority of bananas are flown from countries like Ecuador, Colombia, and the Philippines, which in turn releases a lot of carbon dioxide. That is a lot of air miles just to get our banana fix each day!
Chances are when you first tried eating healthy you swopped that full fat milk for soy milk and started eating soy beans. Luckily for the rainforests, savannahs, and animals like the jaguar and giant anteaters, that soy milk tastes disgusting. Of course parts of Asia do appreciate this ingredient more than we do, so for the protection of fragile ecosystems they will need to try reduce their consumption for the greater good.
Avocados are full of health benefits, are great when made into a dip and eaten with nachos, and are used a lot in Mexican cuisine. We’ve definitely seen the rise of Mexican cuisine around Dublin, with Irish people now swapping a chicken fillet roll for a tostada or burrito. This is another ingredient that needs a lot of water to grow, requiring around 280 litres per 500 grams. Californians are mad for avocados, and grow 90% of America’s avocados despite their water drought.
Everybody has that one smug friend who goes on and on about quinoa and its health benefits. Visit any healthy eating restaurant and you will see quinoa sprinkled on every dish. This massive demand led to intensive sowing of the crop, which in turn harmed soil health and animal/plant habitats.
One would think that the crazy demand for quinoa might lead to the Peruvian/Bolivian farmers making tonnes of money. It has had the opposite effect and in such a comical way that it could be best described as a Greek Tragedy. The farmers cannot afford to eat quinoa anymore, a food which had been a staple part of their diet for thousands of years. How depressing…
What’s the moral of this story? Basically, what’s good for us health wise isn’t always best for the environment.