What We Eat and the Impacts On Climate

Samantha Zeitz

Although talk about reducing our carbon footprints have become more common we still have a lot to learn when it comes to our environmental impact, starting with the way we eat. According to UCLA researchers, education is the key to choosing a diet that is healthy for both the environment and us.

Based on UCLA’s study published in the journal Climatic Change, college students who spent more time learning about how their eating habits effect the environment were more likely to change those habits for the better. The study compared the eating habits of UCLA students in two courses for 23 weeks. Half of the students were in a course that talked about the link between food and the environment while the other half were enrolled in a course that focused on cosmology and evolution.

All students were surveyed on their eating habits before and after the courses. The study found that students in the food related course reduced their weekly beef intake by 28 per cent, which balances out to about one serving per week. Dietary trends also changed in the cosmos course. The study found that the women in the course reduced their beef consumption by half of a serving a week but there was increased beef consumptions of one and a half servings by the men in the course. This has lead researchers to believe that the more we know about our environmental impact, the more we can do to improve it.

Currently, livestock production is responsible for 70 per cent of all agricultural land use, accounting for 30 per cent of the earth’s land surface. It is believed that this industry alone is responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Raising animals for food is also unsustainable. It takes five to seven kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of beef with both taking energy and water to produce, process and transport before it can be consumed.

Every little bit counts and if everyone could make slight changes to their eating habits we could see a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why making conscious decisions about what your consuming is important. David Suzuki suggests keeping the following questions in mind the next time you are shopping: How much energy does it take to produce this? Is it grown organically? How far did it travel to get to the store/table? By just asking ourselves a few simple questions, we could be making a world of difference.