What Footprint Our Food Leaves
An ecological footprint is how much land, water and earth it takes for someone’s lifestyle (NOAA, 2011). In other words you can say how much damage one human or person does to the world. In class we took a quiz that figured out how many ‘earths’ it takes to maintain and have our necessities that we need.
When I took the quiz, I got only the results that I needed 1 and a half planets for the way I live. Which was much lower than my group’s result and the classes, nearly every person got at least 3 earth’s. That is because I am a vegetarian and try my best on a daily to cut out as much dairy as I can, use reusable utensils and cups or plates whatever I’m eating or drinking out of, and in my apartment, we try to save as much electricity as we can whether it’s the lights, tv, and even the air conditioning. A lot of these things some of my friends do are to save money but the others are purely for the environment, such as my 2 vegan roommates, who have even lower footprints then me most likely. No matter what people eat whether they are vegetarian, vegan or a meat eater it has an effect on the environment in some way. But the more people eat animals or by products of animals the greater the greenhouse gases let into the air (ncbi, 2014). In class we were told to draw our favorite meal on a piece of paper and the breakdown of that meal to how much damage it does to the environment.
Analyzing Footprint of My Favourite Meal
The meal I have chosen may affect the environment a little less than others but still does some damage. My favorite meal is Alfredo Pasta with a glass of water. Using real diary Alfredo sauce, store packaged noodles, and reusable dishware. There are many things that are needed and it takes to go into this meal so let’s just start out with the items we are using. I am using a glass cup for the water as well as a plate and fork for the meal, all of which are reusable, also notice that I am not using a straw with my water helping cut down the plastic waste on this planet. Glass is reusable and recyclable, which saves about 40% of energy for production (UCO, 1994). Next is the water which I drink and just get straight from the tap of my kitchen sink, instead of emptying a water bottle or using a machine that gives off emissions. Using tap water and a reusable cup not only costs less but environmentally friendly and healthy (PSU, 2017).
Now let’s get to the food part which gets a little bit more complicated. One of the biggest factors ecologically in this meal is the Alfredo sauce on the pasta. That is because Alfredo sauce consists mainly of dairy, or cow’s milk. Not only do dairy farms inhumanely take cows to unnaturally make them produce milk, but it takes a lot of water, energy, and food in order to do that. A cow drinks between 3 to 30 gallons of water per day per cow, dairy cows need twice as much as regular cows (UNL, 2016). The production of this dairy also gives off a lot of emissions into the air. Such as things like Ammonia found in their manure and methane, which causes major increases to greenhouse gases (NRCS, 1995). As well as the emissions from the energy the factory uses to milk these cows, keep them in the facility and what they do with the milk once it leaves the cow. This is all just to produce the cream that is a part of the Alfredo sauce needed for this recipe.
To finish the sauce is that it comes in a glass jar that you buy at a store. Which means that it is most likely recyclable but that it most likely puts some emissions into the air for this commercial factory to create this sauce and to transport it to all of the stores. Next is the pasta which you can make by hand or you could buy at the store. Either way you will either need to buy the ingredients to make it homemade at the store or buy the entire thing as one. When making this recipe I usually just buy it in a package at the store which is packaged in plastic and has to be shipped to this store. Whether it got flown or driven that still creates or puts more emissions into the air as well. Transportation is 27 percent of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the air (GAO, 2013).
How to Reduce Footprint of Your Meal
Although you will be able to recycle the plastic around the pasta, which will help to reduce waste. In order to cook the pasta and sauce you will need to boil the pasta and heat up the sauce. When boiling the pasta, I use water from the sink in a large pan and an electric rather than gas stove that I have in my apartment. Gas stoves can contribute to poorer air quality in your home and potentially the environment (ncbi, 2014). As for the sauce I usually use a plastic bowl and put it in the microwave, which does technically cause radiation into the air. There are many ways that I could make this favorite meal of mine much more sustainable and better for the environment. The main thing I would want to do is change the recipe to a completely vegan one. There are so many different impacts on the environment due to the production of meat and dairy (EPA, 2010). The recipe would be almond milk instead of cream, cutting down energy, water and food loss in the world.
As well as the fact that almond milk I buy is packaged in paper or cardboard and is completely recyclable. All you need to add to the almond milk is some spices and cook it just like the regular sauce. Next is making the pasta from scratch and using what is already in my home rather than going out and buying it. The pasta can be made from scratch. All you need is some flour and flax seeds, which isn’t what you usually use. The flaxseed is a substitute for the usual egg that is in fresh pasta when you make it. Cutting down the impact of eggs due to the environment as well. Not only making it from home but making it vegan as well. It reduces the amount of emissions into the air, loss of water and food due to dairy farms. It helps to reduce the plastic waste as well as the transportation it takes because I can actually buy the flour and flax seeds locally here in Tucson.
Everyone’s footprint on the world is a big deal whether it is big or small. The bigger the impact people put on it such as commercial factories, all of the gas cars, and just large corporate companies, the faster this planet will be destroyed. It is not the people’s fault for eating meat or not driving a Tesla, it is the society we live in at the moment. Everything is ran around technology and that’s what everyone pays attention to. They are only worrying about when their phone is going to die, what the top celebs are doing right now and keeping their snapchat streaks. I don’t know any teenagers or even adults besides the ones in the ecological or environmental area that wake up every day and are genuinely concerned about this world and how they impact it.
As I go through each day, I always find myself catching almost judging people by the way I live. Such as when you’re at a restaurant and they bring you the waters in glass reusable cups and the people specifically ask for a straw, for no reason. I also used to work at a coffee shop and when anyone would either order their drink with cow dairy milk or ask for a drink carrier for 2 cups, I would immediately freak out. Although my favorite meal has dairy in it at least I am least acknowledging what all of it and how that precious meal of mine does that much damage. After writing this it has opened my eyes so much not only for my diet but my living choices as well.
Overall whether you need two earths or even 10 earths for the way or lifestyle you live, there is only one planet it’s Earth and nothing you can do about it. So, if we want this planet and ourselves to stay around any longer, there are many things that will need to change.
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