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Cards with climate impact of different foods

My journey of understanding the climate impact of my food choices

By Dr Belinda Morris, FixOurFood Programme Manager

I like to think of myself as well informed, but when I first started working in the food systems arena, I realised that when it came to food, I had a lot to learn.

I am a foodie, and I am married to one. Food is a big topic of conversation in our household. However, the theme of those conversations has changed over the last few years – we now spend a lot more time debating what we should eat – not based entirely on flavour and nutrition, but also around climate impact.

I was fortunate in 2019 to be part of the team that delivered the Take a Bite out of Climate Change exhibit as part of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. It was a steep learning curve for me – as I delved into the relative merits of different foods and their equivalent CO2 emissions. It was fascinating talking to visitors to the exhibition. We discussed food expectations – how our grandparents and parents had not had the same access to food that we have now – how they ate seasonally and (especially for those brought up under rationing) would not waste food – it was re-purposed into soups, or preserved in jams, chutneys and pickles.

So has this access to greater knowledge changed the way I eat – yes it has. Steadily I am making changes, I eat a mixture of foods, some with higher climate impact than others, but I try not to eat food that I know will have been flown to the UK. I buy more locally and eat more seasonally. I now look for country of origin on packaging – and that’s another thing – I have become far more aware of food packaging.

There is definitely room for more change, and I will keep reviewing my diet and trying to reduce my climate impact due to food. Our recipe book collection looks quite different these days – vegan and vegetarian cookbooks sit alongside the old favourites. I’m not going to pretend that I will be preparing all the food either – luckily my husband is on this journey with me – and fortunately for me, he just happens to be a great cook!