Making the food we eat more climate-friendly

Circular Cambridge is a season of events that celebrates progressive ways to design, manufacture, access, repair and reuse the things that we want and need in our lives. 

 A weeks' worth of food, not including the ‘store cupboard ingredients’ or meat we already had.

A weeks’ worth of food, not including the ‘store cupboard ingredients’ or meat we already had.

Tackling low carbon food is something which has been on my to-do list for ages but has never quite made it to the top as other changes have felt far simpler.  We eat very little meat and processed food so therefore hoped that our food carbon footprint is lower than average; but there is definitely still more to be done.  I hope blogging my progress will keep me motivated and enable me to pick up some great tips on the way.

I started by completing the ‘what’s in your food cupboard’ task from the Carbon Conversations handbook for the food we bought on our last weekly shop.  For anyone who has not been on the course, this exercise allows you to rate the CO2 associated with the production, processing, packing and transport of foods.  We did cheat a little, as this week’s shop was smaller than usual and didn’t include any meat or ‘store cupboard’ ingredients.

The ‘what’s in your food cupboard?’ task allows you to think about how the food you by affects climate change

The ‘what’s in your food cupboard?’ task allows you to think about how the food you by affects climate change

 

So what were some of the worst things we bought?

  • frozen sweetcorn – this was grown in Hungary and would have had to be kept frozen on it’s entire journey to the supermarket
  • ice creams – again these would have been transported frozen and there was no information about where they were made
  • concentrated apple juice – I’d never fully appreciated the ‘from concentrate’ meant that the juice is concentrated in the country of origin, frozen and transported to the UK and then restored to its natural strength by adding water again

Doing this highlighted that it is often quite difficult to tell where our processed food is made let alone where the ingredients come from or how it’s transported.  There were some pleasant surprises though; the chillies were from Bedfordshire and the lettuce grown in Cambridgeshire. 

As result, we have decided to try to focus on the following to start with:

  • eating more local fruit and veg, a lot of the stuff we had bought was from Europe and further afield
  • reduce the amount of packaging associated with the fruit and veg we buy
  • stop buying frozen sweetcorn. I’m not quite ready to stop eating ice cream just yet…

Wish us luck

Emma

August 20, 2013

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