On the occasion of this year’s World Food Week, from October 16-22 Slow Food is promoting a week of commitment in which its network of activists around the world will take concrete action to reduce CO2 emissions.
Global warming is now a reality. Food production and distribution account for one-fifth of the world’s ‘fever’ (Ar5 IPCC 2014; FAO 2015). Given this reality, Slow Food is encouraging people everywhere—and especially in countries with a high development index—to change their eating habits.
People often feel powerless in the face of the global scale of climate change and its tragic consequences. Starting with food, each of us can help curb this phenomenon. To demonstrate this, Slow Food has launched the Week of Change as part of its Food for Change campaign, which began on September 24 at the close of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto and will continue until the end of this year.
During the Week of Change, participants commit themselves for 7 days to three concrete actions: cooking using only local ingredients, not eating meat, and reducing food waste to zero. You can choose one commitment or all three.
The important thing is that we can show people that their commitment is useful, by actually measuring the result of their actions: Based on the number of people taking part in this challenge, Slow Food, in collaboration with Indaco2 (Environmental Indicators and CO2, a spin-off of the University of Siena, Italy), will estimate how much CO2 eq. has been saved thanks to our collective commitment during the Week of Change.
The Week of Change is just beginning, and many people have already joined. Assuming that there are 5000 participants by the end of the week, our collective CO2 savings will amount to 63 tCO2eq, or the same amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by a car on a journey of 175.000 kilometers (four turns of the Earth’s circumference).
The reasons for the three actions
Cook using only local ingredients. A local food production system has the advantage of integrating healthy and nutritious food with social responsibility, giving priority to ecological systems, eliminating or reducing chemicals, and safeguarding traditional techniques and knowledge. Local food is fresher, it protects local varieties and species (not to mention traditional production methods), it travels fewer kilometers, and it requires less packaging. It also allows producers and consumers to have more information about, and control over, production and distribution systems.
Do not eat meat. Meat consumption has quadrupled over the last 50 years. On average, each EU citizen consumes 80.6 kg of meat per year. According to the World Health Organization, a reduction to 25 kg per person per year would be sufficient, and halving that amount would be a major victory for our health and that of the planet (“World Livestock 2011: Livestock in Food Security”, FAO, 2011). More than 95% of the meat we eat comes from industrial farms that are collectively responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (“Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock”, FAO, 2013).
Reduce food waste to zero. Every year in the European Union, about 90 million tonnes of food (179 kg per person) are wasted. Of this waste, 42% occurs at the household level and 39% in the manufacturing sector. Food waste also implies the wasting of resources such as land, water, energy, and inputs used for production, packaging, transport, and storage. Producing food that will not be consumed involves unnecessary CO2 emissions, in addition to the loss of the economic value of the food produced.