Food plays a fundamental role in the well-being of the planet. In fact, our food choices are one of the most effective ways of supporting the environment in a concrete way. But what are the foods with the highest environmental impacts?
Generally speaking, we can say that if we buy organic and local food, we are already helping the planet. In fact, by doing so we minimize the exploitation of land resources and the pollution produced by means of transport. However, if we want to avoid highly polluting foods with from our diet, we can remove these products from our shopping list.
Avocado, the Fruit of Deforestation
Rich in nutritional properties, the avocado is often responsible for deforestation processes. The enormous demand for this product on the market has generated devastating environmental consequences. In fact, every year over 25,000 hectares of forest are felled to make room for intensive cultivation of this fruit. Just think that demand has increased sixfold in less than twenty years. This of course has required a greater effort to the crops. As a result, avocado has become one of the foods with the highest environmental impacts.
The most exploited areas of the planet are the states of South America, especially Mexico and Argentina.
Environmental Impacts of Meat
Meat remains the food with the greatest environmental impacts. Its ecological footprint is about 3 hectares per capita, with an emission of 85 pounds of CO2 per pound of meat produced. To understand this figure, just think that the same amount of lentils produces less than 2 pounds of CO2.
By reducing meat consumption from our diet we can limit the production of greenhouse gases by 40%. In this way we will concretely help our planet and lower our environmental footprint.
What about Cheese?
Second only to beef, cheese is one of the foods that requires the greatest industrial effort and the greatest emission of greenhouse gases. This food always comes from the meat industry. In fact, it comes from mares forced to give birth repeatedly both to produce calves (slaughtered for meat production) and to induce milk whipping.
This will obviously not be consumed by calves that have just given birth, but used for the production of milk and cheese. Fresh milk has a medium-low environmental impact, especially if it comes from organic and controlled supply chains. On the other hand, cheese (especially mature cheese) has a very high environmental impact due to the processing it undergoes.
Environmental Impacts of Palm Oil
Palm oil is one of the most bitter enemies of the environment because of its intensive exploitation. Used in the food industry instead of other more expensive vegetable oils, palm oil causes an incredible daily damage to our planet. Just like avocado, over 12 million hectares of forest have been felled to make way for palm plantations.
The loss of these precious green spaces, originally rainforests and peat bogs, has led to the disappearance of over 250,000 orangutans and the loss of a very rich biodiversity. In addition, intensive cultivation of palm oil has caused serious hydrogeological instability and a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.