The way we produce, distribute, transport and prepare our food consumes enormous amounts of fossil fuel energy. In fact, the heavily industrialized food chain accounts for about 18% of the U.S. fossil fuel used. Food crises are becoming more common in the world and will become more frequent as energy prices rise. There are key facts about our food system that everybody should know:
» Approximately 8-10 Calories of fossil fuels are currently required to produce 1 Calorie of the food eaten in the U.S. – a direct result of our highly industrialized food process (pesticides, fertilizers, farming equipment, manufacturing, storage, and transportation).
» To produce 1 Calorie of plant protein requires 2.2 Calories of fossil fuel energy. To produce 1 Calorie of factory-raised beef protein requires 25 Calories of fossil fuel energy.
» Less than four percent of agricultural land in the U.S. is dedicated to highly nutritious foods like legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables. More than 85 percent is devoted to crops that are either fed to animals or used in highly processed food.
» Because the U.S. government’s farm policy favors large farms and monocultures like wheat, corn and soybeans, the price of fruits and vegetables climbed approximately 40 percent between 1985 and 2000, while the price of soft drinks (sweetened by corn syrup) has declined by approximately 23 percent.
» Livestock are a major emitter of greenhouse gasses (18 percent worldwide). According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, more greenhouse gases are generated from livestock production than from transportation.
Solution:The choice of what food we eat has a major impact on the environment. Changing how and what we eat can contribute directly to a less energy-intensive way of life. Garden, learn to can foods, eat seasonally, cook at home, avoid highly processed foods, sodas and canned soft drinks, avoid factory-raised meat, and eat locally-grown and/or organic food as often as possible.