Caring for our Earth: Tips for reducing our food footprint

The North Toronto Churches Green Action Group is focusing this Lent on suggestions for reducing our carbon footprint, based on the book “Imagine It: a handbook for a happier planet” by Laurie David and Heather Reisman.  The book is divided into the seven “footprints” we are leaving on our home.  Each week we will concentrate on one footprint with some information about it and suggestions for making it less harmful or wiping it out altogether. 

Our Food Footprint

“The food habits we have developed over time are proving to be too demanding on our planet.  We need to buy, store, eat, and discard food with deliberate thought.  Mother Earth is here for us, we need to be here for her.”  Page 43


  • Conventional food production is responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Consumers are responsible for more wasted food than farmers, grocery stores, or any other part of the food supply chain.  The average household of four is throwing away approximately $1,800 of food a year.
  • Environmentally harmful chemicals are used liberally to supersize crops, kill weeds, and destroy pests.  These chemicals degrade the soil, run off into our waterways, and even kill bees—the crucial pollinators we need to fertilize our crops.
  • Food thrown into the garbage ends up decomposing in landfills, usually somewhere near your town or city, where it releases significant and harmful greenhouse gases.
  • The ten biggest food generators of climate change—based on emissions associated with producing them are: beef, lamb, butter, shellfish, cheese, asparagus, pork, veal, chicken, and turkey.

Ways to Help 

  • Take time to plan meals, which cuts down on waste.  Shop with a list and stick to it.  Don’t buy more than you need.
  • Freeze leftovers rather than throwing them away.  Use them in other recipes or, especially, in soups.
  • Organize your fridge.  Put food that needs to be eaten soon near the front.  Store food in glass containers so it’s more easily seen and not forgotten.  Consider using a Lazy Susan or two in your fridge—makes things much more easy to see.
  • Become a weekday vegetarian and enjoy meat on the weekend—or do the reverse.
  • Try to cut back on your dairy intake.  Consider buying plant-based milks: soymilk, rice milk, oat milk, and almond milk are good options.  Almost all alternative milks have lower greenhouse gas footprints than milk from cows.
  • When consuming cheeses, choose softer ones which leave lower footprints because they contain less milk solids.
  • Go easy on the Greek yogurt.  It takes four times as much milk to make as regular yogurt.
  • Whenever possible, buy organic fruits and vegetables.  Buy local and in season to lower carbon emissions from trucking.  And the food is at its tastiest and freshest.
  • Plant a garden in your back yard or on your balcony (tomatoes grow well there).   Grow herbs on your windowsill.