As many of you know, we have two gigantic food-related problems:
- About one third of global food production is lost or wasted every year. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, the average resident in the United States and Europe wastes between 209-253 lbs. of food every year. In comparison, our brothers and sisters in sub-Saharan Africa and south and south-eastern Asia, where hunger and food scarcity are endemic, throw away only 13- 24 lbs. a year per person. Pope Francis has pointed out the immorality of this by reminding us that “wasting food is like stealing from the poor”.
- Our food system is responsible for about one-quarter of the planet-warming greenhouse gases that humans generate each year. We need to lower the climate pollution associated with our diet by reducing consumption of animal products like beef and dairy—which tend to be much more climate-intensive than plants.
The summer months are a good time for us to focus on ideas/projects to reduce our food waste and to change our diets. I hope this email provides you a with a lot of food for thought on how we can change what we eat and how we dispose of our food.
If your community is already focusing on food related projects (food waste, composting, eating more plant-based foods, gardening, etc.), please send me your stories/photos. Other Creation Care Teams would love to be inspired with your ideas and examples.
How will you take action?
This Caritas video tells the “allegory of the spoons” which “teaches us that when we struggle to feed only ourselves, everyone goes hungry. But when we focus on our neighbor’s hunger, we discover there are ways to feed everyone.” This allegory also teaches us that by working together as a Creation Care Team we can discover new ways to live out our commitments to our neighbors. How is the work to reduce food waste and to eat less meat connected to our call to care for the poor? How can we help feed the world by wasting less food? Can easing hunger and dealing with the climate crisis be connected?
Take this quiz on climate change and food. I was surprised at what I got wrong and how much I learned. Share the quiz with your community.
1) Start Composting! The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 95 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. In a couple of hours, you could set up a compost bin in your home, your school, and/or your parish. Composting food waste can help improve soils, grow the next generation of crops, and reduce methane emissions from landfills. You can choose to compost in your backyard or partner with a composting service.
- Check out this excellent resource on composting written by a Creation Care Team member at St. Patrick/St. Anthony Church in Hartford, CT.
- Need more info? Zero Waste Church and this article, “Growing a garden church from food scraps and compost” should get you started.
2) Commit to move toward a plant rich diet. This would not only be good for the planet, it will also be good as well for our (human) health. Start by:
- Trying some vegetables you haven’t tried before.
- Trying a new plant-based recipe and sharing plant-based recipes with others in your community. Perhaps the next community dinner at your parish or school can be a vegetarian potluck. Invite everyone share copies of their recipes.
- Visiting a vegan restaurant for inspiration.
- Replacing meat with seasoned beans, legumes or lentils in a recipe 1-2 day a week. Try Meatless Mondays and/or bring back the Catholic tradition of no meat on Fridays!
- Switching from cow’s milk to a plant-based alternative like coconut, soy, or almond milk.
- Joining a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to receive fresh, seasonal vegetables.
- Our parter, The Global Catholic Climate Movement, focused on Eating Simply for Lent 2019. Their resources can help us to commit to eat simply throughout the year.
- Our friends at the Evangelical Environmental Network have a fabulous resource to help us focus and discuss the issue of food waste from a faith perspective.
- Check out the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge and see if your parish, school, or institution might benefit from these food recovery practices.
- Check out the resources recommended by the Diocese of San Diego for how your parish can host a food waste awareness week.