We are what we eat - ensuring food sustainability
What we eat impacts how we do. And how we eat impacts the way live. Exactly why eating right today has emerged as the only real long-term option for humanity to re-build health and resilience against the unexpected.
Political conflict, harsh climatic changes, indiscriminate depletion of natural resources and finally the pandemic situation has highlighted the importance of ensuring food security and sustainability across many countries.
There are many triggers that have led to this situation which has driven a deep wedge between access and habits in global food systems.
High population growth and dense living conditions have aggravated the pressure on water and food production and consumption. Long lasting political conflicts as we have seen in the Middle East, have impacted the access of large communities of people to healthy diets. And ironically, fast paced industrial development has given rise to a generation of people living off a highly processed, largely imported, genetically modified or unethically sourced food chains.
This has led to a vicious cycle where poor food consumption habits directly impact the abilities of people to overcome hardships, often leading to the collapse of national infrastructures including health systems when hardships hit.
A sustainable food future
At this stage, for countries to truly steer away from being guzzlers of water, resources and gas we need to invest time and efforts to our transform food systems to create more a sustainable civilization.
Take the United Arab Emirates for example, which has taken on a high priority for food sustainability and security. In line with its long-term thinking, the country is fostering an entire segment of agro-tech companies that will positively impact local food production in a sustainable way.
Along with government support and special economic considerations, community efforts to highlight food sustainability have gained momentum. Other close neighbors are following suit including Oman and Saudi, that have also taken steps to boost local food production.
Tech helps limitations to food security
The technology industry has also made significant contributions, introducing a number of opportunities for countries to overcome their climatic limitations and grow food.
The rise of Vertical Farming, which delivers controlled environment agriculture, optimizes plant growth using less water and soil through techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics.
IoT and sensor-based technologies are also assisting countries with Smart Agriculture capabilities, by building data points that can be monitored for agro-growth improvement. Such advances today can help even countries with water scarcity, or dry terrains to become food sufficient for their communities.
But ensuring food security is a complex problem to solve because it goes beyond just countries and governments taking steps to feed its people or solving hunger issues. Achieving true food sustainability ultimately needs support from us people at both a community and personal level.
Interested to make a start? Here are 7 ways we can contribute:
- Eat more plants: Make an effort to include more plant-based food as compared to meat-only diets. *The livestock industry alone generates nearly 15% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. With global meat consumption soaring as well, the intake of animal products needs to be moderated. Do not support illegal animal farming or unethical meat sourcing practices.
- Protect the oceans: Know your fish and choose your seafood carefully. Refrain from including rare or over-fished species or those that come from poorly managed fisheries. Protecting marine bio diversity is critical to the planet.
- Eat more variety: Consciously cultivating greater diversity in diets is good for nature and great for food security. * Research shows that 75% of the world’s food supply comes from just 12 plants and five animal species.
- Reduce food waste: In developed economies, food waste is a growing problem with more than 30% * estimated to go unconsumed. This poses serious repercussions for the environment. Store and re-use food or contribute to community food sharing programs if you have excess.
- Cut down on plastics: The use of plastics in the food packaging and consumption industry is legendary. Buy foods that more packaged in ecologically friendly ways. Reduce self-use of plastics for consumption.
- Grow your own food: Remember the good old days of a kitchen garden? By growing your own food, you directly contribute to reducing the carbon foot-print you leave on the environment. Besides its fun, delicious and healthy.
- Eat more local food: Eating what’s in season rather than buying imported food helps local farms and your diet a lot better. Working with locally sourced seasonal produce gets you more involved in supporting the communities you live in.
- Enrich the soil: Food composting and soil enrichment from home and restaurant kitchens are a great way to replenish the earth. Make soil to grow your own herbs or contribute your waste to local farms for farm soil enrichment.
- Support local farms: Introduce your children and business associates to sustainable farming. Support a farm, take school children on visits to learn about sustainable farming, share the produce with your friends, families and teams.
- Support food charities: If you’re a business, this could be a great social cause to align to. At a personal level, making a meaningful contribution to support communities of food deprive people can be a fulfilling experience.