How plant crops are grown
- Many plant crops grown by this method – large fields growing the same crop.
- Many grown in large glass houses or plastic poly-tunnels.
- Pesticides are used to prevent attack by moulds, insects, animals, or competition for light and soil nutrients by weeds.
- Artificial fertilisers used to put nutrients back in the soil.
- Many people concerned about pesticides and fertilisers on the long-term health of people, the soil, streams, rivers and the natural ecology of the environment.
- Producing crops without artificial fertilisers and very little pesticides.
- Crops are fertilised with manure and compost.
- Different crops grown on the same piece of land each year – crop rotation.
- Soil Association sets and checks organic standards.
How food/ingredients are reared
Intensive farming/factory farming
- Livestock (animals, birds, fish) are reared in large numbers.
- Often reared indoors in large sheds, cages or tanks.
- Land is expensive, so intensive farming costs less, so the price of food comes down.
- Often fed on man-made food rather than feeding naturally on grass, insects etc.
- Livestock may pick up diseases from each other.
- Livestock may become stressed and fight as they are not used to living in large numbers.
- Can be reared organically.
- Must be fed organic food and live as naturally as possible.
- Must not be given drugs, antibiotics, growth promoters and other medicines.
- Kept in smaller numbers.
Genetically Modified food
What is it and why it is done?
- Complex scientific technique.
- The biological ‘code’ for a characteristic in a species of plant or animal (e.g. colour, flavour, size) from a gene is copied in a laboratory and put into a different species of plant or animal.
- The plant or animal will then reproduce with the new characteristic in place.
- Mainly used for plant crops.
Why some people are concerned about GM foods?
- Possible effects on the natural ecology and environment where GM crops are grown.
- Interference with the natural process of plant and animal reproduction.
- Some people may be allergic to some GM foods.
- Effects on farmers in developing countries who may get tied into a GM contract and lose income if the company decides not to grow the crop anymore.
- It is not possible to tell by looking if a crop is GM or not.
How food/ingredients are gathered
- Wild foods have been gathered for many thousands of years.
- Some foods still gathered for people to buy: seaweed, wild herbs, fruits, mushrooms, honey.
How food/ingredients are caught
Which foods are hunted from the wild?
- Wild animals, e.g. deer (venison), boar (pig), snails, rabbits, hare
- Wild birds, e.g. pheasants, grouse, quail
- Wild fish, e.g. salmon, trout and seafood (mussels, oysters etc)
Seasonal foods: Plant crops
- Plant crops all have natural cycles
- The Cycle: seeds, cotyledon, seedling, adult plant, flower
- When plants are in season
- This means that they are at the stage of their life cycle when they are ready to be harvested
- They are at their best: flavour, texture, and freshness
- Lot available so it's cheaper to buy
Seasonal foods: Animal foods
- Animals have a life cycle
- This influences when certain animal foods are in season
- Particularly applies to fish and seafood e.g shellfish, prawns
- Fish life cycle: eggs, hatch into fish larvae called fry, juvenile, adult fish
- When there are more seafood available to catch
- This means that they are in season
- Shouldn't be caught as they may be laying eggs or may not have fully grown
Environmental issues associated with food
Environmental issues associated with food production
- Impact on climate change – from greenhouse gases produced by food production.
- Meat and dairy food production causes a lot of greenhouse gas production.
- Lots of energy from non-renewable fossil fuels used to produce food, especially meat and dairy foods – causes production of greenhouse gases.
- Greenhouse gases trap heat and warm the planet, which causes climate change
Climate change effects
- Drought (lack of water): crops fail, livestock die, soil blows away, forest fires damage farmland and kill livestock.
- Flooding: soil and soil nutrients washed away; land polluted by sewage, stones and rubbish; livestock drown; landslides damage farmland.
- Gales and hurricanes: damage to crops, farmland, buildings, livestock killed.
- Higher or lower than normal temperatures: affects how crops grow; pollination of crops by insects affected; insects, moulds.
- Extreme storms: crops damaged; livestock affected; water and soil polluted.
Why it is used and the effects it has on the environment?
- Packaging protects food from microbe contamination.
- Packaging preserves food and provides information for the consumer.
- A large percentage of household waste is food packaging – some can be recycled but some cannot.
- Production of packaging uses lots of energy from non-renewable fossil fuels – causes production of greenhouse gases.
- Food packaging and household waste has to be disposed of in landfill sites and by burning.
Transportation of food and food miles
Why it happens and the effects it has on the environment
- Many foods and ingredients come from different countries/regions and are transported many miles.
- Large amounts of non-renewable fossil fuels used.
- This causes pollution and the release of greenhouse gases.
- Many people drive to food shops to buy their food.
- Food miles = the distance travelled by foods and ingredients.
- Locally produced foods: low impact on environment; low food miles; often cheaper; available in season.
Carbon footprint of food
- Carbon footprint = how much CO2 gas and other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere when food is produced.
- Carbon footprint produced by these stages of food production: growing/rearing; farming; processing; manufacturing; packaging; transportation; storage; refrigeration; cooking; disposal of waste food and packaging.
- Meat, dairy food and egg production has the highest carbon footprint.
- Fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and cereal production has the lowest carbon footprint.
- Millions of tonnes of food wasted every year.
- Reasons: poor meal planning; buying more food than needed; serving food portions that are too large; poor food storage; not understanding use-by and best before dates; not using left-over foods; limited cooking skills and knowledge about food; food shops only selling ‘good looking’ fruits and vegetables and wasting edible but misshapen ones.
- Wasted food dumped in landfill site produces large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane.
Sustainability of food
- Food security: aims to make sure everyone has the ability to buy enough safe, nutritious and affordable good quality food to meet their needs.
- Worldwide problem: many people do not have enough food.
- Problems: fewer resources available to grow food, e.g. land available to grow food; water; energy; fertile soil.
- Food security threatened by: environmental pollution, climate change, economic problems, crop failures and human activities.
- Food production needs to be sustainable: farmers need to be paid properly for their hard work and products; different varieties of plants and animals need to be protected from disease or becoming extinct; the welfare of livestock, plants and people in the community who grow the food needs to be protected; food production should not damage natural ecosystems and should reduce wastage; local communities should be encouraged to work together to produce food and protect the environment.
Producing meals sustainably
- Read food labels carefully.
- Buy local foods where possible.
- Plan carefully to avoid wastage.
- Prepare and cook food carefully to avoid wastage.
- Use the cooker hob more than the oven – more energy needed to heat the oven.