Sustainability

Sustainability (Chap 7)

Costs

The Hidden cost of food shows that for every pound we spend on food in the shops, there is another pound passed on to society. Half "of this total is made up by the damaging impacts of intensive production methods, including environmental pollution, soil degradation, biodiversity loss and some health impacts." While a further third is made up of "food-related healthcare costs, linked to poor diets...A high proportion of these extra costs are paid through general and local taxation". Not by the retailers. When snow covered the UK earlier this year, the loss of topsoil became starkly apparent as the white snow was rapidly covered with brown earth from eroded fields.
FAO Report says "Water pollution from unsustainable agricultural practices poses a serious risk to human health and the planet's ecosystems, a problem often underestimated by policymakers and farmers alike. "
Sustainability Food Trust says the hidden - and unpaid - costs of UK food is about £120b year. "The most significant share of this total is made up by the damaging impacts of intensive production methods, including environmental pollution, soil degradation, biodiversity loss and some health impacts. These account for an extra 50 p of every £1 spent on food. Food-related health care costs, linked to poor diets account for an extra 37p" Direct farm subsidies are only 2.5p.

Benefits


LUPG report Transitions to Agroecology (The UK Statutory Conservation, countryside and environment agencies) says "More environmentally sustainable farming, such as the agroecological approaches considered in the study, provides opportunities to develop new business ventures, in turn helping to develop the rural economy and support rural communities." "Some farmers reported cognitive shifts in their understanding of farming (‘change the mind-set’, ‘weeds as forage’, ‘accepting mess’, and engaging with the local community) as well as emotional shifts in enjoying new skills and knowledge and increasing self-reliance (‘finding your own agronomic solutions’, ‘doing your own budgets’). "
Nature-based ways to combat global warming "Planting millions of acres of trees and energy crops as well as restoring wetlands and coastal habitats could help the UK become carbon neutral by 2050." They go on to suggest "need to not just draw down carbon but to store it permanently as well.Five practical steps to remove greenhouse gasesIncrease forest cover by about 40% of the current UK totalPlant around 2.5 million acres for energy crops - these can be burned for electricity and the CO2 stored underground permanentlyRestore wetlands and salty marshesCrush silicate rocks and spread them on farmland to absorb CO2Build more houses with timber
See also Soil where I start to spell out the importance of saving our arable soils

Food Waste

Gove promises £15m in food redistribution
Around a third of all food produced is wasted - a third of that is before the supermarket and a thirds is what we throw away. Around 90 mt wasted each year in the EU.
Would giving tax credits to companies that give their food waste to food banks help?
Farm food waste could feed Manchester & Birmingham for a year.
Ocado - the on-line food retailer, has reduced food waste to virtually zero.
Moves to use bread - one of the biggest source of food waste, for brewing beer. Toast Ale Use our Loaf Beer - 'the best thing since sliced bread'. This is hardly new - both bread and beer have been proposed as the impetus for agriculture and civilisation. Some early bread making was for the explicit purpose of brewing beer. Origins of Bread & Beer
Sainsbury's given up on its pilot 'Waste less, Save more' campaign after rotten result in Derbyshire
Food waste in manufacturing shows that just under half of all edible food that becomes waste does so during manufacturing, distribution and retail.

Food waste hierarchy


Food Waste is actually not always waste.
1. If the “waste” food can be eaten as food by humans, it should be. This is called prevention.
2. If it cannot be eaten by humans but still by farm animals as feed, it should be.
3. If no human or animal can eat it anymore, it should go to organic recycling.
4.The next step is energy recovery and
5. When it can't be used for anything else, it should be classified as waste. Only then.
Tesco to scrap 'Best Before' labels to help reduce food waste Oct 2018
Recipe for Change EU Independent Expert Group: "recommend orientations for food and nutrition security research and innovation in the years to come. The report calls for a Research, Innovation and Investment Strategy (RI&IS) in line with the EC FOOD2030 initiative to deliver on four priorities: nutrition for sustainable and healthy diets; climate smart and environmentally sustainable food systems; circularity and resource efficiency of food systems; innovation and empowerment of communities. The experts have reworked and integrated these using food systems thinking, "

Plant v Animal impacts


There is a general presumption that herbivores are better for the planet than carnivores. Here IATP and GRAIN spell out Emissions Impossible - how big five meat and dairy companies pridce more GHGs than big oil companies. But..
For HerbivoresThis is based mainly on 1) number of calories to make vegetable calories much less than for meat, 2) GHP potential of methane production of ruminant creatures.
For carnivores1. Nitrate production - mainly for vegetable and grain production is a greater GHG contributor and energy consumer than methane (Stren) 2 According to Stern biggest contribuor to GHGs is land use change - from forest to pasture and from pasture to ploughed land..where3.Vegetable and grain growing is wrecking our best land.
Grass-fed Beef - the most vegan item in the supermarket Raising beef is good for the planet
See 'Sustainable Diets' ...
Sustainable Diets according to land.pptx

Caen & Abel

This was cut out of the book...The argument between the carnivores and herbivores goes back to ‘Biblical Times’, as told in the story of Cain and Abel. Their father – Adam – said they should make a sacrifice to God. Abel was a shepherd so offered up a nice young lamb, while Cain who ploughed the land offered ‘burnt grasses’. This may have been bread, as this would be where and when wheat was first cultivated. God preferred the lamb.
So Cain killed his brother. His punishment for this was that God sent him off to the land, East of Eden - from where the film gets its name. (The film plot changed a bit, so 'a wilful young man contends against his brother for the attention of their religious father'. James Dean played the wilful Cal (=Cain) to win him the first ever posthumous Oscar). Despite this story being part of all the three big Abrahamic religions, nobody has been able to explain to me why God is a carnivore

More recently in USA

"The farmer and the cowman should be friends"

Oklahoma..

Green Alliance 'Setting the Standard Shifting to sustainable food production in the UK' says "A successful domestic policy for sustainable food production is contingent on trade strategy. A vision of farms with high welfare standards and precision agriculture, growing high quality, sustainable, low carbon food would wither on the vine faced with a trade policy that opened up market access to food produced under lower environmental standards. " It is good at looking at the phrase 'public money for public goods' that everybody seems to agree with. But what are public goods and when do we use public money to rectify market failures?
Food Industry in 2018 - Bolder Aims and Broader Horizons on Sustainability "Food companies are being spurred by the UN Global Goals and heightened consumer expectations to increase the ambition and broaden the scope of their sustainability programmes."
Brexit & Environment is a network of impartial academic experts analysing the implications of Brexit for UK and EU environmental policy and governance.
Chatham House Conference A Sustainable Food Future Nov 27-28 London