Did you know that food makes up a massive proportion of our ecological footprint? Almost 60%!
Globally, the trend towards large scale industrial agriculture has had a very negative impact on local ecology and communities. Large areas of the Amazon are being cleared to grow grain, to feed cattle, to turn into hamburgers. A bewildering variety of chocolate biscuits are available at the supermarket, whilst literally thousands of traditional varieties of fruits and vegetables and heritage farm breeds of animals are quietly becoming extinct.
The figures are staggering…for example, it takes about 2000 litres of water to make one hamburger! Beef has a high ecological footprint because of the large areas of land cleared for grazing. Eating one less serve of beef per week would save 300kg of greenhouse pollution over a year.
Similarly, dairy farming requires large amounts of water to produce the pasture required by the cattle and to manufacture and recycle packaging of dairy products. Eating 2 cups less milk per week would save the equivalent of 13 000 litres of water or 250 kg of greenhouse pollution over a year.
At the same time, Australians are spending millions of dollars every year on food that is never eaten, and ends up in our landfills.
Don’t worry! Meat and dairy can be part of a healthy, sustainable diet and we’re not trying to stop you enjoying the foods you love. The message is not to overdo it, avoid highly processed fast foods where possible, and look for opportunities to support local, sustainably farmed products.
Of course, it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet with a wide variety of foods. The National Health and Medical Research Council have produced simple dietary guidelines for adults which you can download at
The good news is that one of the simplest, most rewarding ways to start reversing these trends is to change the way we eat.