Cities have a problem with food: they waste a lot of it. The current food distribution setup encourages bulk deliveries via trucks which means that when that large amount of food goes bad – a lot of it does all at the same time. Governments have looked into this problem and are addressing it at the city level by finding novel ways to use the nearly-expired food. Some places are using food that can’t be sold in grocery stores for charity while others use it for entirely other reasons. It’s great to see food waste decrease a little more each year!
And giving food to hungry people—surprise surprise—makes society a lot better. One of the best examples is in the English former industrial town of Leeds, where food that would be thrown away from supermarkets goes to a big state school in a poor neighborhood. The school gets enough to feed all 600 pupils a nutritious breakfast and lunch for no extra cost to itself or to parents. Because the pupils aren’t hungry or coming down off sugar rushes, there’s less truancy, they behave better, and their exam scores have gone up.
But food banks and charities also end up with leftovers, so there’s been an explosion in organizations, like Les Confitures de Dominique in Bordeaux, that turn unwanted fruit and veg into jams, smoothies, chutneys, and soups. In fact, there’s a whole new industry of turning food waste into other food, like Toast Ale in London, which takes the unwanted bread ends that can’t be used for prepackaged sandwiches and turns them into beer.
A vegetarian diet is simple: stop eating meat. A vegan diet is also simple: don’t consume any animal products. In practice, these diets can be seen as difficult for people because of the culture surrounding them. Vegans can be seen as aggressive in their opinions, but that’s a vocal minority. Most vegans are cool with whatever you do, indeed there is a growing movement of vegans who are celebrating people who just eat less meat.
The Bros take an inclusive approach to veganism: “We cast a big tent, and the goal is to bring people in. [We don’t] define vegan in this very stringent, hardcore way that is inaccessible to people.”
They’re definitely onto something. In November, Quartz chronicled the transitionthat the animal welfare lobbying group The Humane Society made in its messaging: Less emphasis on no animal-derived products under any circumstances, and more on fewer, better-raised animal products. The idea is that by getting consumers to demand more responsibly raised meat, as opposed to no meat at all, more animals would be saved in the long run.
Teenagers question assumptions and tend to rebel against societal norms, so why not get them to question the normal industrial food supply we have? If we do subtly guide teens to think that standard capitalist food practices should be questioned they end up rebelling by eating healthy! It turns out all one has to do to encourage healthy eating is to get teens to think about where their food comes from more than what does for our bodies.
“If the normal way of seeing healthy eating is that it is lame, then you don’t want to be the kind of person who is a healthy eater,” said David Yeager, co-author of the research from the University of Texas at Austin.
“But if we make healthy eating seem like the rebellious thing that you do, you make your own choices, you fight back against injustice, then it could be seen as high status.”
Industrial fishing is killing life in the oceans at an alarming rate, so much so that the loss of life undersea is contributing to climate change. In fact, one tiny thing many people can do to fight climate change is to simply cut fish out of their diet. One company, New Wave Foods, in California is hoping to help people cut out shrimp from their diet by having them eat “shrimp”.
The “shrimp” they are making is actually plant-based so it can be grown even on land. Using red algae to make simulated shrimp is good for the environment and good for the shrimp under the sea.
M: How do you make shrimp from plants?
D: We use all plant-based ingredients to mimic the taste, texture, color, and nutritional profile of shrimp. We use soy for protein and red algae for flavor. Red algae are what shrimp eat in the wild, so they contribute to the flavor profile. We’re creating food out of food and using science to bring ingredients together.
M: How close are you to a finished product and wide distribution?
D: We are really close to a final product, and we’re collaborating with a number of food experts. We’ve created the perfect shrimp in the lab, but now we have to scale it for greater production. We are going to market first with popcorn shrimp. It’s pretty perfect, and popcorn shrimp is about one-third of the shrimp market. It looks really familiar to people. Our goal is to launch this product in six to 12 months. We’ll do a soft launch in California first. We’re also working on a cocktail shrimp.
Consuming meat as part of your diet increases your carbon footprint by a large factor. It take a lot more energy to produce meat than it does to produce plants. Indeed, many institutions have called for people around the world to consume less meat while increasing their fruits and veggies intake.
China has issued new dietary guidelines that encourage less meat consumption in hopes that it frees up resources (land, energy, etc.) for other means. Given the size of China’s population even a small percentage of Chinese changing their diets will make a difference.
New dietary guidelines drawn up by China’s health ministry recommend that the nation’s 1.3 billion population should consume between 40g to 75g of meat per person each day. The measures, released once every 10 years, are designed to improve public health but could also provide a significant cut to greenhouse gas emissions.
Should the new guidelines be followed, carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from China’s livestock industry would be reduced by 1bn tonnes by 2030, from a projected 1.8bn tonnes in that year.
Globally, 14.5% of planet-warming emissions emanate from the keeping and eating of cows, chickens, pigs and other animals – more than the emissions from the entire transport sector. Livestock emit methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, while land clearing and fertilizers release large quantities of carbon.