Healthy eating – healthy planet
What we eat influences our health and the environment in many ways. On the one hand, eating a lot of red and processed meat and consuming only small amounts of fruit or vegetables increases the risk of chronic diseases and premature death. On the other hand, food production is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the main user of freshwater, the leading cause of biodiversity loss, the main driver of land-use change and the main human-made interference in biogeochemical cycles such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Changing the ways we produce and consume could thus have a broad range of benefits.
But where to start? For example in the EU regulations and subsidy systems for agriculture have grown over decades mostly in favour of large-scale industrialized farming and changes are heavily fought over. Food consumption in industrialized countries has a high CO2-footprint because we eat high amounts of animal protein and source our food from all around the world. Enormous amounts of food are thrown away before it reaches the shops, in the shops, and at home.
Even if people would like to eat healthily and more sustainably, they find it hard to break old habits and do things differently compared to what they have always done or to what everyone around them does. The challenge is to change production and consumption patterns that are deeply rooted in our minds, our institutions, and our society.
How can we feed the world’s population which is projected to rise to 9 billion by 2050? Why are there still people who suffer from sustained hunger even though enough food is produced globally? How can we reduce food waste? What are the effects of large-scale vs small-scale farming on the environment? Do we need to eat meat to survive? Why is it difficult to make food production and consumption more sustainable? So many questions, so many challenges.
Betreuerin des YES!-Teams und Autorin des Themenvorschlags:
Christine Merk ist Wissenschaftlerin im Bereich Global Commons und Klimapolitik des Kieler Instituts für Weltwirtschaft. Sie erforscht unter anderem Strategien zur Senkung des Treibhausausstoßes im Bereich Ernährung. Die gesellschaftliche Umsetzbarkeit und wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen treibt sie um. Nicht nur deshalb arbeitet sie gerne interdisziplinär und hat selbst Politik- und Verwaltungswissenschaft studiert und danach in Umwelt- und Verhaltensökonomie promoviert.