by Holly Naylor
Food Sustainability and Why It Matters
Do you ever stop to think about where your food comes from and its impact on our planet? As delicious as our favourite dishes may be, they may come with a hidden cost. From deforestation to greenhouse gas emissions, our food choices can significantly impact the environment.
As someone who loves food, I understand the struggle of balancing what I want to eat with sustainability. But fear not, because there are small changes we can make in our daily lives to help reduce our impact on the environment while still enjoying our favourite meals.
According to UNICEF, food security is a growing concern in Asia. The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, population growth, and farming techniques have all led to an increase in the number of people who don’t have enough food to eat. I want to help with this but didn’t know how. Let’s dive in and see how we can all help.
Image by WIX
Positive Environmental Impacts and Diet Types
Are you ready to be a part of the solution to a problem that seems beyond our reach? It's easier than you think.
By making some changes to our food choices, we can all contribute to a more sustainable food system that benefits us all:
Protecting the environment: Food production is a major contributor to environmental issues such as deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. According to a study by the University of Oxford, switching to a plant-based diet could reduce an individual's carbon footprint by up to 73%.
Improving our health: Plant-based diets, for example, have been shown to reduce rates of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and obesity. A study by the World Health Organization found that diets high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases.
Supporting local communities: We can support more sustainable agricultural practices and local businesses by choosing locally sourced, in-season produce. This helps reduce the carbon footprint of food transportation and helps the local economy.
It may seem overwhelming to make these changes, especially with all the tasks and responsibilities we have in our daily lives. But with a few simple tweaks, you can make a meaningful contribution to improving food security.
Image by Wix
Simple Steps to Transform Your Diet for Better Sustainability
Choose plant-based options: Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds into your diet, and reduce meat consumption.
Support local farmers: A variety of vegetables grow well in Singapore and can be bought online or in supermarkets. Edible Garden City and Quan Fa Organic Farm for example provide fresh, sustainable products such as leafy greens, papayas, and bananas, which are picked at the peak of ripeness.
Reduce food waste: Plan meals in advance, store food properly, and repurpose leftovers to reduce food waste. Apps such as Eatwell make planning easy.
Choose eco-friendly packaging: Opt for reusable containers or biodegradable packaging when possible.
Choose sustainable seafood: Check for certifications like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label to ensure your seafood is sustainably sourced.
Choose organic produce and products to support sustainable farming practices and reduce exposure to harmful pesticides.
Shop in season: Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season to reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation.
Grow your food: Try growing a few vegetables or herbs in pots at home. This YouTuber is regrowing her vegetables.
Reduce consumption of processed foods: Choose whole foods over processed foods to reduce the carbon footprint of processing and packaging and improve your health at the same time.
Reduce water usage: Choose foods that require less water to produce, such as grains, legumes, and vegetables, and reduce water usage at home where possible.
Image by Wix
Changing the Game: Spotlight on New Innovations in Food Technology
Asia generates the highest amount of food manufacturing waste in the world, estimated at a whopping 270 million tons in 2020, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It's clear that the food industry has a significant impact on the environment and urgently needs to find ways to reduce its waste.
But there's hope on the horizon. Innovative food technologies are emerging, including the game-changing concept of food upcycling.
Upcycling food means transforming food waste and by-products into new products with added value. From creating compost to animal feed, general food waste can be put to many uses, depending on its nature and condition.
Upcycling can also mean transforming food manufacturing waste into nutritious food products for people while promoting sustainability.
For example, pulp left over from juicing can be used to create plant-based burgers, while spent barley grains (SBG) from beer brewing can be used to create protein powder which can be used to make bread flour. A staggering 85% of beer-brewing waste comes from SBG, which is high in protein and fibre.
An example of a Singapore-produced, upcycled, vegan-friendly, healthy product is W0W® noodles made from SBG. Due to its nutritional qualities, it is safe even for diabetics to eat as a functional food.
Image source: WOW Noodles
Another innovation in food technology is plant-based meat which offers a sustainable alternative to traditional meat.
Plant-based meat requires fewer resources during production and can be grown in areas where standard meat production may not be possible. It also provides a more stable and reliable protein source, reducing food systems' vulnerability to disease or climate change.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is also becoming central to food technology. It can optimise crop yields, analyse food waste, and develop new food products. AI algorithms can analyse data on soil quality, weather patterns, and plant genetics to determine optimal crop growth and yield conditions.
Simple Steps to Becoming a Food Sustainability Champion
Despite our busy daily lives, reducing waste at home is another impactful way to reduce our environmental footprint and help the planet.
We can reduce food waste and promote sustainability by making simple changes to our everyday habits.
Here are just some of the things we can do:
Plan meals: Create a weekly meal plan and only buy the ingredients you need to reduce food waste. Shop with a grocery list to reduce impulse purchases and prevent food waste.
Store food properly: Store fruits and vegetables in the fridge to keep them fresh for longer.
Repurpose leftovers: Use leftover food to make new meals or freeze them for later use.
Use all parts of vegetables: Use vegetable scraps to make homemade stock or pesto.
Freeze excess produce: Freeze extra produce like bananas, berries, and avocado for smoothies or baking.
Learn to preserve food: Preserve food by pickling or dehydrating excess produce. Food dehydration can even be done in an air fryer!
Use food before expiration: Use food before it expires by creating a "eat first" section in your fridge.
Check expiration dates: Check expiration dates regularly and only buy what you can use before it expires.
Reduce portion sizes: Serve smaller portions to reduce food waste from uneaten food.
Use reusable containers: Store food in reusable containers to reduce plastic waste from single-use packaging.
Image source: Afterglow via Facebook
As someone who is passionate about sustainability, I've learned a lot recently about how our food choices can impact the environment. One practical tip that I've found particularly helpful for reducing food waste is meal planning.
By planning out my meals for the week and only buying what I need, I can minimize my food waste (it also helps to avoid the dreaded dinnertime panic when everyone is hungry, and I don’t know what to cook!)
While these actions may seem small, they can add up to a big impact over time. Reducing food waste can save money, conserve resources, and contribute to a more sustainable food system.
So the next time you're in the kitchen, remember that micro changes can make a big difference!
Reach out to us to learn more about how GreenPush can help empower your employees with knowledge, resources and support to encourage sustainable behaviours in every part of your business.
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