Consumers can make a difference and reduce the environmental impact of the food they consume with their shopping choices. Many people don’t realize the tremendous impact that agriculture and the production of food have on the environment, or that they can help lessen that impact with their purchasing decisions. Let’s take a closer look at this.
Until relatively recently, most of the earth was wilderness, including grasslands, forests and deserts. Over the last few hundred years, however, as people have turned to agriculture to grow the food necessary to support human life, wild habitats have been replaced by farmland. About 1,000 years ago, less than 5% of land that isn’t desert or ice (considered habitable land) was used for agriculture. Now, farmland takes up more than half of that available land. Pastures and farms that grow animal feed account for more than three quarters of all agricultural land, even though they produce less than 20% of the total calories consumed by people. Eating less meat and using plant-based alternatives could help reduce the number of livestock required to feed people throughout the world and lessen the impact on the environment.