Our world is serving over seven billion mouths daily. That number is expected to rise another two billion by 2050. That means we will need to produce more food. It is estimated that the world will need to double its crops output in order to meet the increased demand for food. Agriculture is being viewed as the solution for food security which can pose a serious threat to our natural resources. Agriculture is one of the greatest contributors to global warming, tree clearing, water usage and wildlife extinction, therefore we may need to reassess if this indeed is the answer. The challenges to feeding another two billion people without causing more environmental damage seems almost impossible to overcome. However, two little changes in how we eat can ease some of the pressure on our planet: eating less meat and eating more leftovers.
I know, it sounds too simple. Even with my limited knowledge on farming I do know agriculture has expanded due to the rise in meat consumption. More and more crops are being planted for animal feed. Corn, one of the top producing crops, is grown to feed anything from cattle to fish. More than half of corn crops in developing countries are grown specifically for animal feed. With two more billion people to feed by 2050 increasing the number of livestock farms more crops will be need to be planted. This means more clear-cutting, more water usage, more eco-systems impacted, more global warming, and ultimately more environmental damage. This is a cost that our world cannot bear.
So how can those who enjoy eating meat (including me) eat less of it? It’s easier than you think. First we need to start thinking differently about meat being the star of our meal. We also don’t need it in abundance. One of the things I have done differently in my household is using meat as flavouring or a complementary ingredient to my dish. I don’t prepare my meal around a big chunk of meat. Soups, stews, casseroles, pasta dishes, salads and wraps are great ways to add just a little bit of meat. Preparing meals this way has stretched two or three chicken breasts into three meals for a family of four. Using more side-dishes and a smaller piece of meat helps with the hungry man in your household. I can’t even tell you the money I have saved incorporating meal preparation this way.
Second idea I am bringing forward is eating leftovers. It seems some of us have gotten too big for our britches to resort to eating yesterday’s dish. Some may think leftovers are for people who have no choice, however we all have no choice if we want to keep our world vibrant and healthy. So if leftovers aren’t eaten where do they go? Yup, right in the trash. It is estimated that half of the food produced worldwide is wasted and thrown out. Although this includes food that are in grocery stores we may not need to shop as much if we finish off last night’s supper at today’s dinner.
I intentionally make a big enough meal to ensure there are leftovers. This not only saves my energy but the energy running throughout my home as well. Reheating stew, lasagne, or shepherd’s pie takes no time or electricity at all! There is also big money to be saved here too! If there doesn’t seem to be enough to fully satisfy my ravenous family members I add a salad or side dish. Incorporating this eating trend into my family when my children were young has made them accustomed to eating the same thing again without much fuss. They don’t stick their noses up when they see last night’s supper being served again.
As more and more people are gaining more financial security our diets will also become richer. This will cause us to want more meat, more variety and more in general. We need to curb our thinking that more is better especially when it comes to food. It may be hard to imagine that making a couple small changes in your eating style will impact the Mother Earth but it does. One tree not removed for a crop means 48 pounds of carbon dioxide is removed from our atmosphere annually. The food industry evaluates future demand by what you are buying today. You can make a difference today!