Ethical Cost of Food
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In this issue we focus on sustainable food through product guides to rice, cooking oils and meat-free sausages and burgers. These three items were picked in an online survey we did with readers in January. The good news is that in each guide there are truly sustainable options that can help you follow a low-impact, low-carbon diet.
Our ethical shopping guide to meat-free burgers and sausages highlights just how pressing the issue of sustainable food is. Our 'Veggie vs Meat' feature compares the carbon intensity of meat consumption versus meat substitutes. This is especially the case in regard to beef production. Its carbon footprint is astronomical and its impact on the rainforests of Brazil has been catastrophic as Josie Wexler investigates in the 'Soya and Deforestation' feature.
In the battle to fight climate change one answer seems obvious: reducing, or indeed ceasing meat consumption. For non-vegetarian or non-vegan readers there are loads of initiatives to take part in like ‘Meat Free Mondays’ and Friends of the Earth’s Meat Free May.
In the market for rice the news is less good. How rice is cultivated can have a huge impact on its greenhouse gas emissions, and this can make a big difference, as at least 10% of agricultural emissions worldwide comes from rice production. There are a number of things that farmers can do to limit and reduce these emissions but progress on this has so far been slow. Our 'Sustainable Rice' feature uncovers some of the factors that can significantly reduce emissions.
Sadly, as Anna Clayton comments, “climate-conscious rice consumers are fairly limited in what they can do.” But there are a small number of brands emerging that produce Fairtrade and organic rice, featured in our guide, which we know will have been produced using more sustainable methods.
In the ethical shopping guide to cooking oils, Heather Webb outlines the problems associated with industrial scale production, from the prevalence of GM to the desertification caused by some intensive olive oil production.
Fortunately, in this market there are a number of brands that offer oils produced by small scale farmers who use more sustainable production methods.
Indeed, there are two oils, from Zaytoun and Equal Exchange that can have a positive impact not only environmentally but also socially. Both oils help support farmers in Palestine where, as we know, the Israeli occupation has caused tremendous hardship to farmers. Supporting these Best Buy brands is a very positive addition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
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