Some food items give us joy while we consume them. We might not realize then, but most of the foods that we consume have a great impact on the planet. The foods that we purchase have a ton of energy and water that we never realize. Considering the process from growing crops to their production and distribution, these items prove to have a large environmental impact.
Here’s a list of all those food items that have an adverse impact on the environment:
To produce one acre of corn, 60 gallons of fossil fuels which are in production and distribution are used on an average.
2 Fast Food
Apart from having an adverse effect on our body, fast food impacts our planet too. A fast food meal comes with packaged food, straws, and other plastics which are harmful to the environment. They are also a primary source of litter. According to a study in Hong Kong, a fast-food restaurant which makes four hamburgers emits the same number of organic compounds which are volatile which is equal to driving a car 1000 miles. The greenhouse emissions coming from production and consumption of burgers is equal to the amount emitted by 6.5 to 19.6 million SUVs.
Chocolate is a powerhouse industry. It is made from cacao plantations that are a major reason for deforestation. 56 grams of a bar of chocolate has 169 grams of carbon footprint. Almost three times its size. Also, its water footprint is 24000 liters per kilogram of chocolate which affects the environment adversely.
Out of all the plants rich in protein, potatoes produce the most emissions. Most of the footprints are produced from cooking, though it depends on the style of how they are cooked and the duration. For example, more emissions are produced when a potato is baked as compared to French fries and the fries take less time to cook.
Lamb has fifty percent more greenhouse emissions per kilogram as compared to beef. Lamb provides less edible meat as methane gas emissions and the feed required is comparable to that required of beef. Each meat contributes to 23 kgs of carbon emissions. This makes it the worst animal protein for the environment.
6 Almond and Almond Milk
Almond and Almond’s milk is a healthier option, but they have a detrimental impact on the environment. More than 80% of the world’s almonds are from California which is presently experiencing a terrible drought. It takes 4.1 litres of water to grow a single almond and 100 litres of water to produce 100 ml of almond milk. This generates high demand for water. This forces the farmers to adopt methods like drilling the wells, which affects roads, bridges, canals, and even trigger earthquakes.
Chicken solely might not have an adverse impact, but its processing requires more water and energy than other meats. Poultry farming is a major cause of environmental degradation. These birds are caged in small spaces which infest the environment with diseases. This leads to poor air quality and higher emissions of ammonia which negatively affects the crops and aquatic species.
Rice is the largest producer of methane gas on the Earth. It is the world’s second produced and a staple food demanded all over the world. The production of rice is largely responsible for rising temperatures due to methane. Microorganisms that produce carbon monoxide also produce methane in paddies. Since the world population is increasing, and the demand for rice is also on the rise, the number of methane emissions produced from rice will automatically increase.
Animal agriculture produces 14.5% of the greenhouse gases of the world out of which 65% is produced by beef and other dairy cattle. Each kilogram of beef emits 27 kilograms of carbon dioxide. Deforestation is also increasing in order to clear lands for cattle therein reducing the trapping of greenhouse gases.
10 Packaged and processed foods
Whenever we go to a supermarket or any grocery store, we find that almost all goods are processed and packaged. These food items contain chemicals, and all the packaging keeps on piling which ends up in a landfill. These poisons from plastics harms the environment and take thousands of years.
When soybeans are produced, it results in deforestation of ecosystems like savannahs and rainforests. Due to their expansion, species like anteater and jaguar are now in danger. Every 2 pounds of soybeans require 530 gallons of water.
Avocados don’t require as much water as almonds, but they still need 74 gallons of water per pound. They come with a whole set of environmental issues.
Salmon Farming is considered the most destructive practice in aquaculture. Since most of the salmon is air shipped, it brings the total carbon footprint equal to that produced by a car when it travels three miles. the chemicals used to keep salmon healthy are put directly into the water thereby allowing the passage of pesticides and antibiotics into the water.
Cheese is a major contributor to carbon dioxide. There are many reasons. Firstly, it comes from cows who emit methane gas and secondly, it requires transportation and refrigeration. It contributes to half the amount of carbon emissions. The production of cheese is energy extensive as it involves many processes like separating raw milk from low-fat cream. This raw milk is then pasteurized, cooled, ripened, and then churned. The process of refrigeration and transportation is energy intensive which has an adverse impact on the environment.
15 White Bread
We are aware of the fact that whole grain and wheat bread are better and healthier than white bread. Production of white bread requires the refining of wheat flour which goes through a series of alteration processes that are energy consuming. This has a negative impact on the planet.
16 Palm Oil
Palm Oil is a vegetable oil that is used in 50 percent of all consumer goods. So, goods ranging from shampoo to fuels, all have palm oil as their ingredient. Even though it is good for health, but it also leads to deforestation on a large scale.
Sugar is produced from sugar cane. Sugar cane production has caused a greater loss of biodiversity as compared to other crops grown on the planet. It takes up to 5000 gallons of water to grow one acre of sugar cane. The waste produced from sugar mills are discharged into the water bodies which suck all the oxygen present.
When one egg is produced, it takes about 4.8 kilograms of carbon dioxide. The emissions from egg come from the production of chicken feed, nitrous oxide gas which comes from poultry litter, and the burning of fuel. Since the chickens are caged in small spaces, it leads to a rise in ammonia production. Also, a dozen eggs has a water footprint of 2400 liters.
Coffee grows in a shaded area which is a habitat for many plants and animals. The shade prevents the erosion of topsoil and removes the need for additional fertilizers. Since there is a huge demand for coffee, it is now produced in direct sunlight. They grow faster but require more fertilizers and land.
Tuna is produced by overfishing. Fishing and consumption of tuna lead to the extinction of species from water bodies. The methods used for its production results in the killing of tuna as well as other species.