A Climate-Friendly Diet

27 Nov 2015

Climate change means not only higher temperatures but also the transformation of ecosystems, with serious repercussions for human activities. At sea, for example, the 1°C increase in the temperature of the water risks killing the roe of hundreds of species of fish and reducing oxygen concentration, with extremely serious consequences for the creatures that live in it.

According to the Food Climate Research Network, the agrifood system is one of the prime causes of environmental pollution: It is estimated that in Europe, from crop cultivation and livestock farming, via the processing, packaging, distribution, sale and consumption of food, to the disposal of food waste, it is responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, agriculture is the human activity most vulnerable to climate change: increasingly frequent droughts, floods and high temperatures affect every form of food product, be it vegetable or animal. It has been calculated that a 1°C increase in the average temperature is equivalent to the shifting of crops 150 kilometers further north and 150 meters higher. New vineyards in Great Britain are already producing grapes traditionally used in Champagne, a fact that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

There’s an important point worth noting, however: namely that the negative effects of climate change have repercussions on agriculture all over the world, not only in the zones that determine them the most (the most industrialized countries, where impacting techniques are used to increase yields), but also in the poorest countries. Agricultural activities in the latter certainly have a lower direct impact on the climate—not that they’re immune to the upheavals triggered elsewhere—but also fewer protections in terms of technology and guarantees.


So what is to be done?

Changing eating habits, taking notice of how the food we buy has been produced, moving towards more sustainable lifestyles—all this ensures that food production has, on the one hand, less impact on the climate and is, on the other, less vulnerable to climate change. Every time we shop for food and decide what to cook, we have a chance to “improve” the environment in which we live and thus contribute to the survival of the human race. It’s important to realize that generally what’s good for the climate is also good for our health. For example, if we eat less meat (we eat far more than what doctors recommend anyway!) of higher quality, our shopping will have a softer impact on the climate and our organism will feel the benefit. Remember that many of the so-called “diseases of well-being” are caused by over-consumption of animal protein.


Sign Slow Food’s appeal to the representatives of the nations and international organizations gathering in Paris, asking for agriculture is placed at the center of the debate.

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