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Sustainable Food Consumption, Hospitality News, ET HospitalityWorld

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Another eventful year that will be reflected in the future as important historical events have come to an end. From nasty wars, nationalistic political talk, inflation, delivery shortages, the aftermath of Covid to failure to meet CO2 reduction targets, 2022 has tested the nerves of many. In the chaos of what has happened, many people have forgotten the pre-established priorities, should economic recovery now be treated with the same urgency as climate change? Many don’t know.

By channeling it into the food industry, which already faces many challenges like shortage of qualified personnel, rising costs, shortage of raw materials and ever-increasing customer expectations, the situation is no different. . At the heart of the food industry, it has always been the guest/consumer who has played a central role in paying for the product. It is now time that this consumer who has only consumed and paid for the product, must now also play an additional role as a conscious consumer by following sustainable consumption practices. When we talk about sustainable consumption, it means much more than just consuming seasonal/regional foods. It’s a whole ball of various little factors that need to be taken into account while consuming it.

Eating for health and sustainability
Am I eating too much of a particular product? What are the sources of the product I consume? Under what conditions was this product made? How will all packaging be recycled? These are the kind of simple questions that must be asked before making the choice to consume a product or service. One can also admire the marketing efforts of multinational food companies, which present food in such a way that any harmful after-effects are completely ignored by the consumer. For many, food choices are a way of communicating their social status rather than a way of life.

It is this act of choosing our food that gives us the power to overcome many future problems. A bad choice not only harms our environment, but also has an impact on our health. So, to understand how we choose a particular food, we must first understand which food categories have a major impact on the environment.

The foods that emit the most GHGs (greenhouse gases) are:

• Ultra-processed foods: more production steps mean more emissions

• large ruminants (cows, goats, sheep) – emissions due to needs for animal feed, fertilizer, irrigation water and released methane

• Seafood – Emissions from deep sea fishing and finding very expensive fish

• Imported foods – naturally due to long distance travel

We have all known for years that the consumption of meat, seafood and imported foods has a high impact on carbon emissions, but it is also ultra-processed foods that should also be studied to control the increase shows.

Ultra-processed foods
Ultra-processed foods (UPF) are foods that are modified in such a way that the basic ingredients cannot be recognized. Ultra-processed foods typically require the use of cheap oils, refined flours, salt, sugar, and whey protein to alter taste, and textures are altered using additives and emulsifiers industrial. Unfortunately, ultra-processed foods account for half of the calories consumed in developing and Western countries. Ultra-processing backed by food science creates the urge to over-indulge in food, so people eat more UPF than unprocessed food, which ultimately impacts the environment.

Some of the common UPFs that may not even seem ultra-processed are sliced ​​bread, store-bought cakes/donuts, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, protein bars, flavored yogurts, non-craft deli meats, or vegan sausages / vegan meat substitutes.

Here, one must exercise caution while understanding the difference between processed foods and ultra-processed foods. Processed foods were designed to increase shelf life and solely for the purpose of reducing food waste such as canned tomatoes, olives, artichokes, fish in oil, etc.

What can a consumer do
According to the World Resources Institute, reducing global meat and dairy consumption by just 40% and (I mean not eliminating it completely) could prevent 168 billion tonnes of future GHG emissions and save green land. 2 times the size of India.

From a pragmatic point of view, small steps to change the way we eat food would help us prevent emissions in a fully meaningful way:

• Heavy reliance on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans as opposed to meat, dairy and ultra-processed foods (most meat alternatives are also, unfortunately, also UPF)

• Consuming a wide range of products rather than over-consuming one type of product (overuse of wheat, coffee, sugar, refined flour should be investigated)

• Eat local and seasonal and support local communities as opposed to imported foods for fresh ingredients.

• Opt for low-impact transport and fair trade certification for foods such as chocolate and coffee.

• Choose food produced by farmers following fair natural practices, even if the produce is expensive (and organic produce will be expensive, sometimes even double that of mass produce, as small businesses do not have the luxury of economies of scale)

Ultimately, we shouldn’t make food complicated, it should be treated as a way to enjoy and socialize. There’s always a reach of a bar of good chocolate and a bag of kettle crisps. But when purchased from a fair trade source and consumed mindfully, it will definitely help us save our planet.

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