(ORDO NEWS) — The growing population of the planet will require more food. Already today, the agricultural industry has a significant impact on the environment. In the future, we will have to rethink our diet if we are to save the planet and feed all people.
Chips, donuts and sausages not only have a negative impact on health, but also deal a huge blow to the environment.
Agriculture is the main driver of environmental change in the world. It accounts for one third of all greenhouse gas emissions and about 70% of fresh water use. The industry also uses 38% of the world’s land and is the largest contributor to biodiversity loss.
Another problem is that although there are over 7,000 species of edible plants, 90% of the world’s consumption comes from just 15 types of crops, while more than half of the world’s population lives on just three crops: rice, wheat and corn.
It is these cultures that form the “basis” of ultra-processed products. Producers choose them because they are cheap to produce and high-yielding, which means they can be produced in large volumes at little cost.
The advent of convenient and cheap foods has replaced a wide range of low-processed whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, meats and dairy products. This has reduced both the quality of our diet and the variety of foods we eat.
In addition, the cultivation of these crops is associated with the loss of biodiversity due to land acquisition for production.
And scientists have been talking about the impact of ultra-processed foods on human health for years. Diets high in these foods have been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, and depression.
How to fix it?
Experts believe that food production resources around the world need to be redirected to growing healthier and less processed food.
For example, around the world, a significant amount of cereals such as wheat, corn and rice are ground into refined flour to produce refined breads, cakes, donuts and other baked goods.
They could be redirected to the production of more nutritious foods, such as wholemeal bread or pasta. This would help improve global food security.
Other environmental resources could be saved by eliminating the use of certain ingredients entirely. For example, demand for palm oil (a common ingredient in ultra-processed foods linked to deforestation in Southeast Asia) could be significantly reduced by shifting consumer preferences towards healthier foods.
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