Eat your leftovers, it’s good for the environment! According to one researcher at the University of Michigan, Mary Heller, food waste has a large impact on the environment. Food waste impacts the heat-trapping gasses we release into the environment which in turn effects the climate. Heller is also stated as saying, “If we look at the greenhouse gas emissions associated with that food waste, it is equivalent to adding an additional 33 million average passenger vehicles to our roads every year.”
Another way to look at food waste affecting the environment is to think about the gases emitted when creating that food. For example, cows generate a great deal of methane gas and when we eat a lot of cow meat, we are adding more methane gas emissions into the air.
Animal based foods, have a much higher greenhouse gas emissions associated with their production than plant based foods. This is because it requires a large amount of energy to keep these animals alive and then kill them for their meat. When we order burgers and do not eat the leftovers, the animal was killed for no reason other than to create harmful greenhouse gases.
The USDA recommends for Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as more low-fat dairy products and seafood. The average American takes in too many calories as it is and if we were to reduce our caloric intake by about 20% but still follow the USDA’s food recommendations, it wouldn’t help to lower the greenhouse gas emissions. This is because the USDA is calling for more dairy consumption and this carries a large carbon footprint.
Heller says, if we continue to eat the way we do and the amount that we do, greenhouse gas emissions occurring due to the production of our food, will increase by about 12%. If our country was to take on a completely vegetarian diet and reduce the amount of calories we take in every day, greenhouse gases would decrease. While this situation is not yet realistic, it is possible. For our planet to maintain our future generations, we need to make a change in our lifestyle and make it soon.
If you commit to ordering food at a restaurant or making food at home, it is important to eat everything on your plate. Food waste is a great cause of greenhouse gases and when you live in a country that wastes 1/3 of its food, you have to consider the effects we have on our planet. To reduce the negative impact you have on your environment, consider a vegetarian diet, eat less calories and eat all of your leftovers.
Source: Michigan Radio