We live in a world where the global population is growing at a fast rate, and consequently, so is the world’s demand for food. In order to meet this demand, global food production has drastically increased over the years, unfortunately this has come at the expense of the quality of food that we put into our bodies every day. Food producers have resorted to the use of harmful practices in an attempt to produce larger amounts of food more quickly. This pursuit towards quantity and convenience has slowly taken us away from our natural means of preparing and handling the food we eat. Toxic chemicals and pesticides are used to increase the yield of our harvests. Inorganic fertilizers are used to artificially grow crops faster, depleting the nutrients in our soil – ultimately leading to less nutritious fruits and vegetables. Growth hormones are administered to livestock to speed up their growth and development. Antibiotics are used in overpopulated fish farms to avoid disease. These are some examples of what the food industry has become. It is natural for insects to migrate onto our crops. It is natural for our crops and livestock to grow at a slower rate. It is natural for some fish to die of disease. Our attempts to prevent these natural ways of life have only resulted in more harmful outcomes. It is for this reason that we must find other sustainable yet natural and healthy ways of eating food. That being said the challenge does not only lie in the consumption of healthy food, but also our ability to use that food efficiently.
With a growing population, the task of properly nourishing everyone becomes exponentially harder, which is why the means of consumption is key. Food waste is a serious issue in today’s world, reports suggest that by 2030, 2.1 billion tons of food will be wasted each year. This is equivalent to 66 tons of food wasted every second. Today about ⅓ of the food produced every year is wasted, yet according to the Food Aid Foundation, about 11% of the world’s population is malnourished. Ironically, despite all of the unhealthy and unnatural methods that we use to try and increase the efficiency of our food production, ⅓ of this food is wasted regardless – which would be more than enough food in itself to feed the malnourished. However, not only is our food waste hurting those in less fortunate areas of the world, but inadvertently we are hurting ourselves. Our ineffectiveness of consumption means that we have to produce more food than needed and a clear example of this is within the meat industry where we have seen a large increase in animal agriculture. This has lead to many negative effects on our environment and habitat. In fact, meat consumption and animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gasses then all of the worlds transportation systems combined. The consumption of meat also requires an overwhelming amount of land, water and energy. It takes more then 2,400 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef. This is not to mention the ethical concerns in meat production. Many of these animals undergo animal cruelty and are treated very poorly. In addition, there has also been an extensive amount of research which points to health concerns with the consumption ofmeat. Therefore, a global shift toward a vegan or vegetarian diet could not only be a significant improvement for your health, but also be one of the most effective ways of combating the effects of climate change and helping the environment. Moreover, the way in which we present and store food also factors into the effect we are having on the earth we live on.
As humans, we tend to perceive and judge many aspects of the world through our sight and now so more than ever, our eyes are bombarded with stimuli. That may be why we often seem much more set on the appearance of the things we buy, rather than the contents themselves. We have entered a multi-media age, where on a daily basis we are surrounded by adverts and images that show us unrealistic but aesthetically pleasing versions of products and people. Naturally when presented with such images, a link has begun to form between our expectations of quality and the visual representations that we see around us. Social media and the online world have only escalated this effect. We are so concerned with the representation of our products that we spend a large amount of resources and energy every year on the production of packaging. Not only is packaging very energy consuming, but the production and use of this packaging also comes with negative environmental implications. The materials used are often very hard to dispose of (plastic being a prime example of this, taking up to 1000 years to decompose), and the methods that we do have for disposing of our packaging waste often come with negative consequences of their own (eg. burning plastic releases toxins into the atmosphere). Our packaging waste often also ends up littering our oceans, landmass or harming animals. Nevertheless, the process of protecting our food through various forms of packaging is one that is necessary, and in many ways tough to eliminate altogether. Even so, it is important that we find ways to reduce our packaging use and find other solutions for reducing the overall harm we inflict on the environment. The types of food we consume and the means in which we consume it has always been closely linked to our climate and environment, which is why in our current day and age it is more important than ever to stay aware and conscious of our food systems.