Our consumption of food has a significant impact on the environment. Food-related product systems differ considerably in terms of the strain they place on the environment. Of course agricultural production is a key factor, but other downstream aspects such as processing, packaging, distribution, preparation and waste can have a major influence on the environmental burden. ifeu has previously issued life cycle assessments and greenhouse gas / energy balance sheets for a wide range of foods. Key results are also drawn up and communicated to the general public.
ifeu outreach activities in the food sector
Communication of key ifeu results in the foodstuff sector and dissemination of ifeu expertise should not be limited to an expert audience. On the contrary, outreach to the general public is a key ifeu strategy. For this purpose, ifeu routinely engages in outreach and public relations activities, e.g. with presentations at trade shows and fairs, on television and radio and in talks for lay audiences. ifeu is seeking to raise public awareness for the following four principles.
- Principle 1 – Low-meat diet: The climate footprint of cold cuts and meat is considerably worse than that of fresh vegetables. In consequence, the share of meat in the diet should be reduced. From a climate perspective, beef is the least favourable meat option.
- Principle 2 – Regional and seasonal produce: the combination of ‘regional and seasonal’ is key for avoiding long transport distances or energy-intensive greenhouse cultivation and/or prolonged refrigerated storage.
- Principle 3 – Environmentally-conscious shopping: grocery shopping should be carried out on foot or by bicycle, or alternatively by car while avoiding unnecessary detours. If the distance covered by car for a minor grocery shop exceeds a few kilometres, there is a considerable impact on the environmental footprint of the resulting meal.
- Principle 4 – Waste prevention: Food items that ultimately end up in the waste bin have been produced, transported, purchased and prepared just like consumed food. Food going to waste has a negative impact on any environmental footprint. To avoid these effects, the grocery list should be well prepared and leftover food should be consumed instead of discarded.