tHE GLOBAL IMPACT OF OUR EATING HABIts
What we eat has a huge environmental impact. Your own environmental footprint depends largely on the choices you make regarding your food consumption.
Why exactly is it so important that we all are mindful of our eating habits? Firstly, the production of food accounts for 26% of the global greenhouse gas emission (iv). Next to that, a lot of water is used for the production and because all that food needs to be grown somewhere, new land for agriculture is created by destroying large parts of the rainforest. Of course, we also have to consider the transportation of the products, e.g. via plane. In total, food and land represent 23% of the global carbon footprint!
So, what can we actually do to reduce the impacts of the food industry? A sustainable or green diet is one with a low environmental impact. When opting for a green diet you will contribute to food and nutritional security and to healthy lives for present and future generations.
When scrollig down you will encounter loads of information that you will hopefully find interesting and helpful on your journey towards eating greener!
How sustainable is your diet?
How often do you consume meat?
a. Every day
b. A couple of times a week
Do you eat locally?
a. I try my best to only buy products that are locally grown or produced
b. I buy whatever I can find in the supermarket
Do you eat seasonal food ?
a. There are seasons for food?!
b. I try to avoid unseasonal food as much as I can.
What do you do with your leftovers?
a. Usually I throw them away
b. I wrap everything in aluminium foil, small plastic bags, etc.
c. I use reusable cans, containers, etc
What do you bring along when you go grocery shopping?
a. I just take the plastic bags at the supermarket
b. I bring along jute bags
c. I bring along jute bags, smaller nets and bugs, etc.
How much do you know about ecolabels?
a. What are eco-labels?
b. I know the most important ones! I try to look for them as much as possible.
c. I spent half my life studying the art of ecolabels and am happy to say I am now an expert. No label? No purchase!
some things you should know...
Meat production has a considerable impact on the environment. Meat needs 10 times more water to be produced than other crops! Because we need space for both animals AND their food, meat production leaves a big mark on the environment. It is then true that the less meat you eat, the better for the environment. This is also for this reason that more and more people decide to adopt a vegetarian or even a vegan diet! It all makes sense now right ?
Scroll down to see how much resource is needed to produce meat and what you can eat instead of meat.
Food waste actually accounts for 6% of the total greenhouse emissions. This percentage includes the food that is produced and transported but will never be eaten. In fact, more food than we need is produced: 2,5 times more to be precise! And this automatically leads to a lot of waste… So next time you have leftovers, keep them in reusable containers and eat them the next day! Scroll down for some tips on sustainable food storage.
When buying local and seasonal food, not only do you support your local farmers, you also help reduce fossil fuel consumption, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Why? Because the food does not have to be transported by plane, ship, etc. and does not need to travel around the globe. Scroll down to see which products are locally produced in the Netherlands.
carrying your groceries
We’ve all seen the pictures of beaches flooded by plastic. You might also have heard of the seventh continent of plastic. In fact, while humans have produced 9 billion tonnes of plastic so far, 5,4 billion tonnes are floating in the ocean!! But how can we buy less one-time use plastic when we do our groceries? Scroll down to find out more…
Eating what you want whenever you want is a modern day luxury with a cost. Strawberries in December are either shipped from far away or grown locally but in greenhouses. You might think that if they are grown in the Netherlands, it is acceptable. However, about 10% of all Dutch gas consumption is linked to heating greenhouses. By eating season food you don’t only discover new vegetables
but also support your local agriculture! Scroll down to find out more about which fruits and vegetables to eat in which season.
Many products try to trick the consumer by looking and appearing ecologically friendly, when really, they are not. This is also called greenwashing. Ecolabels are a great way for you to not get tricked. An ecolabel shows you that a product has been examined and is certified as sustainable. Continue reading for different types of ecolabels!
Would you like to know more about the ecological impact of your personal daily consumption ?
Take an online test to calculate your carbon footprint
This is an overview on different types of food and their environmental footprint in three different domains, namely carbon emission, deforestation and the use of water.
The number of CO2 emissions includes all the emissions on farms, roads, in factories, in shops and in your home. 27 kg of CO2 is equivalent to driving 108 km. One tonne of CO2 is equivalent to driving approximately 4000 km.
That means you could drive back and forth to the International Space Station 5 times.
Land use includes the total amount of square meters needed to produce one kilo of the respective food type. It is especially high for meat as well as dairy products, because not only do the animals themselves need space, but on top of that, their food needs a lot of space to grow. This is why meat production is very often linked to massive deforestation!
Similar to the land use, the water use is the highest for meat, because it also includes the water that was used to grow the animals’ food. In fact, the soya bean is often criticised to have a bad carbon footprint but it is only
because extreme quantities are produced to be fed to animals. (x)
Of course, there are way more and there are some you can eat in multiple seasons. Check online for more seasonal fruits and vegetables or download the MilieuCentraal app “Groenten en Fruit kalender” (only in Dutch) to see which vegetables are in season and whose production would be the least harmful for the environment.
I have leftovers, what can I do?
Make the swap and shop green !
The Human Cost of Food
You have discovered the environmental cost of our food production, although food production can also have tremendously negative impacts on the lives ofthose who produce it.
Did you know that:
● In Chile, avocado production has led to severe droughts.
● In Mexico, avocado production became a lucrative business for drug cartels.
● 2.1 million children are believed to work in cocoa production in the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Most of these children are forced to work or are trafficked.
Now, how is that possible?
In both Chile and Mexico, the huge Western demand for avocado has led to detrimental consequences on avocado producers.
○ For Chile, the high demand led water to be redirected from civilian use to the avocado plantations, leaving citizens to drink from contaminated water that must be brought by trucks.
○ In Mexico, the high demand for ‘Green Gold’ led drug cartels to take control of the avocado business. If farmers refuse to pay the gangs, they can have their plantations burnt to the ground or even worse.
On top of that, the huge demand for avocado (which requires A LOT of water to grow) led to huge environmental costs including deforestation, enormous water use and of course massive Co2 emissions due to its shipment.
For chocolate, because of its very low cost, cocoa farmers (mostly in the Ivory Coast and Ghana) have an income as low as 2$ per day. To afford the workforce, they often have to resort to child labor. Most of these children are enslaved or trafficked.
Now, what can you do?
READ READ READ (or watch): educate yourself before buying.
ASK YOURSELF: where these products come from and how they are being produced. Are you sure their production did not involve human rights
BUY LOCAL (or from neighboring countries): this way, there are less risks that the product has been shipped from far away and less risks for human rights violations.
If this is not possible, REDUCE YOUR CONSUMPTION
LOOK FOR ECOLABLES: looking for fairtrade ecolabels is a good way to
make sure the product’s production did not involve human rights abuses.
Helpful addresses in Maastricht
Do you wanna buy dry ingredients in Bulk?
– Gedeelde Weelde
– Bring your own containers or get a bag there!
Buy locally grown vegetables?
– Gedeelde Weelde
– Organic Market
– Yildiz Plaza
– LOCOtuin (do it yourself)
Do you wanna buy sustainable meat?
– Gedeelde Weelde
– Organic Market
– Sustainable butcher Maastricht
– Yildiz Plaza
Do you wanna have a bite at a Sustainable-oriented place?
– Bandito Espresso (cafe)
– Bisschops Molen (Bakery)
– Mes Amis (restaurant)
– Livin’ room (restaurant
– Preps (restaurant)
– Cato by Cato (Takeaway)
– AlleyCat (CAfe)
Buy daily leftover of shops and restaurants ?
– Too Good To Go App
With this app you can get leftovers from restaurants, cafes, and food shops for a third of the initial price.
Just register and pick it up !
(Only Thursday from 1: 30 to 6:30)
Local initiative: go harvest your own vegetables! You can pay a yearly fee to the organization, which will help farmers produce local vegetables and flowers, of which you receive a part! You can also order a basket of vegetables from home!
Visit their website for more information.
Student-led organization: get fresh, affordable, locally grown vegetables! Fill in an order (on a form you can find on their different social media, released every Sunday and available until Tuesday 3 pm). Pick up your veggies on Wednesday between 2 and 4 pm, at the address on the right. Make their lives easier and bring your own reusable bags and order form!
Fresh fruit and veg.
Cafes and restaurants
Breakfast – Vegan Pancakes
– Vanilla Soy milk (or any other non-dairy milk from the brand Alpro)
– ½ Baking powder
Tip: if you use a non-sweetened milk (e.g. oat milk) add a mashed banana and some cinnamon to the mixture!
Mix all the ingredients well until the mix gets a creamy yet not fully liquid consistency. Put the batter in small round shapes in a pan. Wait until little bubbles appear at the surface and turn them around. Wait for a couple minute until they are cooked.
Serve while still warm and add some fruits, vegan chocolate paste or maple syrup on top!
Lunch – Vegan spinach quiche
– 450g of spinach
– Quiche dough (pre-made from jumbo, check but most of them are usually
– 4 tablespoons of chickpea flour
– 2 tablespoons of maizena
– Olive oil
– Soy cooking cream (250g aka the whole carton, usually found in the
plant-based milk section)
– 2 onions
– 2 garlic cloves (up to you)
– Nutmeg (up to you)
– Nutritional yeast (optional)
Cook the onions in olive oil until translucent, add the garlic, cook for a minute or so, add the spinach, salt, pepper, nutmeg and the herbs and cook until all the water has evaporated. Place your dough in a quiche dish and prick with a fork several times. For the “egg” mix, in a bowl combine the chickpea flour, the maizena, salt, pepper, soy cream, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a bit of water and mix everything (the amount of water depends on the consistency of your egg mix, it needs to be liquid but not too much, similar consistency to pancake batter). Once the spinach are fully cooked, add to the egg mix and stir. Pour everything on the dough and place in the oven at 180 degrees for approximately 45min.
– You can add any herbs or herb mix you have on hand
– You can add sesame oil instead of olive oil for a nuttier taste
– You can swap the spinach for zucchinis (around 4 large ones) and make a
zucchini quiche instead!
Dinner – Vegan pumpkin curry
– 1 tbsp sunflower oil
– 3 tbsp thai yellow curry paste of curry spice mix
– 2 onions finely chopped
– 3 large stalks lemongrass bashed with the back of a knife
– 6 cardamom pods
– 1 piece pumpkin or small squash (1kg)
– 250ml vegetable stock
– 400ml can coconut milk
– 400g can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
– 2 limes
– large handful mint leaves
– Cooked rice
– ½ tbsp Chili powder (optional)
Heat the oil in a sauté pan, then gently fry the curry paste with the onions, lemongrass and cardamom for 2-3 mins until fragrant. Stir the pumpkin or squash into the pan and coat in the paste, then pour in the stock and coconut milk. Bring everything to a simmer, add the chickpeas, then cook for about 10 mins until the pumpkin is tender. The curry can now be cooled and frozen for up to 1 month. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the curry, then cut the other lime into wedges to serve alongside. Cook the white rice. Just before serving, tear over mint leaves, then bring to the table with the lime wedges and the rice.
Dessert – Vegan chocolate chip banana bread
– 3 mashed bananas
– 75g vegan butter
– 2 tbsp baking powder
– 1 tbsp baking soda
– 1 tbsp vanilla extract
– 230ml non dairy milk (e.g. oat milk)
– 80g sugar
– 260g flour
– 100g of 72% dark chocolate
Mix all the ingredients together and put the batter in a cake form. Cook in the
oven for 45min at 190°C.
Tip: add some more chocolate on top of the batter in the cake form to add a
layer of sweetness !