The Future of Food

By Alex Kirkman
8 September, 2017

Hi guys it’s me, Alex, your favourite Food Fundi Dietician.

I recently gave a talk at an awesome event called “The Future of Food”. The topic is pretty self-explanatory but it’s main aim was to open areas of discussion on the sustainability of our current food demands against what we are producing i.e. are we going to be able to feed the 7.5 plus billion people on earth… without destroying it at the same time.

The event was open to the public and was attended by academics as well as people just looking to make a difference. A large portion of the guests were people from the local community… it just shows that people are so keen to take charge of their own health and that people actually care about their impact on the environment. This made me happy!

The talks ranged from looking at the burden of food production on our environment to finding practical solutions to solving some of the challenges ahead. As expected, beef got a bit of a beating and ‘organic’ and ‘non -GMO’ were the kings of conversation. All this aside, for me, it was important to note that in South Africa, the socio-economic status is such a massive driving factor affecting our nutritional status, and sometimes organic, free range and waste free are not a possible long term solution. As a developing country, we cannot be compared to Europe or other first world countries, but there needs to be some change with regards to our choice of foods and waste production.

This event really opened my eyes and made me realise that each of us can be better in some aspect of our food and shopping choices. So I have set myself 5 goals as to how I can destroy the earth less – and I challenge you to do the same:

#GOAL 1: Meat-free Monday

This is a great initiative to reduce the amount of meat people eat. Research shows that if all Americans ate no meat, chicken or fish for just one day a week, this would result in the same carbon savings as taking 19.2 million cars off the road in the US for an entire year.

So it may not be Monday but at least once a week I am going to cut out meat. Keep your eyes peeled for some meat-free Monday recipe inspiration!

#GOAL 2: Refuse those tiny plastic bags that you pack your veggies in

Rather weigh your vegetables and stick the price directly on them. I have tried this three times (and failed twice!) but I shall persevere.

#GOAL 3: Be more conscious of where my meat, fruit and vegetables come from

Only buy fruit and vegetables that are in season. Avoid imported fruit and vegetables as these require more transport and thus have a higher carbon footprint. Thus I shall wait patiently for my artichokes coming into season soon! For now it’s the joys of flu fighting citrus.

Also, choose meat that is free-range and grass-fed. These animals have slightly lower carbon emissions as they do not require as much grain production to feed and have fewer animals per square meter of farmland. Although these meats are normally more expensive, it is better to eat smaller portions of a better quality meat and know its source.

#GOAL 4: Maintain my compost heap

I have done this for the last 2 months. It does require some outside space, but mine only takes up about half a square meter in my garden. Alternatively there are some great indoor composters available that take up a tiny corner of your kitchen. I keep all my veggie off-cuts as well as cardboard and egg boxes which I mix into my compost heap. It has made a big difference on how many rubbish bags I put out on a weekly basis.

 #GOAL 5: Keep going with the veggie garden

Growing vegetables and herbs is one of my most rewarding past times. Despite the ongoing war between the snails and my basil, my veggie garden is one of my favourite places at home. Even a few pots in your kitchen with herbs inside can be a good starting point.

So those are my goals and I hope that this inspires you all to be a bit more mindful of your food choices and how these impact our environment.

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”

Robert Swan.

– Alex