“Eating is inescapably an agricultural act, and how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.” — Wendell Berry
If you are what you eat, then the supporters who joined us during our Dine for Climate series directly engaged in solutions to climate change. Our four-restaurant series connected the dots between agriculture, our food, and climate change, while 30% of the proceeds of every meal supported the work we do here at Climate Generation. We are proud to share that attendees at each restaurant helped us raise $3,000!
The partnerships we made with Fig + Farro, J. Selby’s, Birchwood Cafe, and Wise Acre Eatery highlighted farm-to-table and vegan meals as a delicious way to support climate change solutions with our forks. We were grateful to have the opportunity to share message with our long-term supporters as well as a new group of concerned citizens, and we thank all of the restaurant owners for making the series possible!
The truth is that climate change and food have a cyclical relationship. We highlighted this at our Climate Conversation at Gale Woods Farm earlier last fall, as well. Read more about the Dine for Climate series and hear from our four restaurant partners about their sustainable methods in City Pages.
How the food system contributes to climate change
Industrialized agriculture is a major contributor to global carbon emissions. Not only does the farming itself produce emissions through its fertilizer and pesticide use, but the land-use changes, transportation, processing, packaging, and distribution of modern food add up to a significant carbon footprint.
At an individual level, the average conventional food product takes a 1,500-mile journey from crop to plate and it takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Taken together, the global food system is responsible for roughly half of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to a U.N. report on agriculture and food security in a changing climate. What does that mean for us as consumers? In the words of Bill McKibben, “the entire industrialized food system essentially ensures that your food is marinated in crude oil before you eat it.”
How climate change is affecting our food supply
Growing food depends on a stable climate, which is impacted by the increasing extreme weather events brought on by climate change. Droughts such as the Midwest drought in the summer of 2012 and the ongoing California drought seriously threaten our food security. In the U.S. alone, droughts and heat waves in 2012 affected approximately 80 percent of agricultural land, causing an estimated $30 billion in damages.
According to a recent New York Times article, the accumulating evidence of climate risks to our food system prompted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to issue a sharp warning: “a reliable food supply could no longer be taken for granted on a hotter planet.” In response to the threat of climate change, farmers and scientists are researching agricultural mitigation and adaptation strategies to build our food system’s resilience.
What you can do
Too often, we find ourselves divorced from our food supply, and as a result most of us give little thought to how climate change might disrupt our food security. By becoming conscientious eaters, we can help shape the future of food towards the climate solution it has the potential to be. Not only will this help us avoid food insecurity, it will provide us with better food to eat. And it starts with supporting the restaurants and food providers that are sourcing food sustainably.