Food is a need, food is a pleasure, food is a matter of personal taste or cultural preference.
What perhaps comes less quickly to mind is that food is first and foremost a human right that is still not fully realized for one person out of nine in the world. And looking at the future, food is a great global concern. By 2050, with the same planet, we will have to feed three times more people than a century before. From that perspective, food is much more than a private story. The choices we make regarding food production and consumption already have direct or indirect consequences on the climate, on the use of resources like water and land and on people’s ability to feed themselves and live decent lives here and abroad.
Today, food production:
- contributes more to global warming than all cars, trucks, airplanes and trains combined;
- uses 70% of fresh water, but seriously degrades water quality due to pesticide and fertilizer runoff;
- accelerates the loss of biodiversity;
- is a major cause of deforestation and desertification.
But not every diet has an equal footprint. How positively or negatively our food choices impact people and the planet depend mainly on the five following aspects: what we eat, how much we eat (of what), how much food we waste, how our food was produced and who benefited from it.
Three times a day, each one of us has the possibility to choose food that better respects life in us and around us. In a world of over 7 billion people, our personal positive actions may seem to be a drop in the ocean, but they are not. As is the case with North Americans, our European diets have the greatest environmental footprint and are the drivers of several negative impacts. But within Europe, and especially within the nine countries that are part of this project, there are also many positive examples of responsible food consumption.
In this web section, you can discover more about how food shapes the world. We describe six global food trends that are problematic and should be brought to the attention of all of us, from policy makers to the general public.
These six trends are:
- the accelerating loss of varieties;
- the increasing consumption of meat and dairy products;
- the growing distance between farmers and consumers;
- the loss of seasonality;
- the runaway consumption of highly processed food and the presence of palm oil in half of processed food;
- the dramatic increase in food waste.