Slow Food launches Menu for Change, the first international campaign to focus on the impact of our food choices on climate change.
“To those who wonder why an association that deals with food culture should promote a campaign on climate change issues, I can say this: it is reckless to be concerned with the quality of a product without asking if that product is connected to environmental damage and labor exploitation.”
We are all responsible for what we eat and what we cultivate: “The biggest land to cultivate is the struggle against food waste. All industrial institutions repeat that by 2050 we will be 9 billion and a half and that we need to produce more food, while we already have enough food for 12 billion living today. This means that a large part of produce goes to waste.”
There is an entire agricultural paradigm to change, while production is focused in the hands of a few. A dramatic example comes from the tomato supply chain: “Tons of tomatoes come to Italy from China, are processed and colonized by African countries, invaded by concentrate boxes produced by companies with names like Gino and the tricolor flag on the jar. These similar-Italian brands are destroying African farming because they have even lower prices than their own products. The result is that young people leave the land and work in the fields of southern Italy. We are all involved, small actions multiplied by millions of people can change the world. ”
These market paradoxes add to the devastating impact of climate change. At Cheese the direct testimonies of the most affected were told by farmers and breeders in the south of the world. Tumal Orto Galibe, a shepherd of northern Kenya, says that in the last fifteen years, “even life expectancy has diminished. In the pastoral community we saw an increase in disease. And it is increasingly difficult to adapt to a climate that changes over the years as it changed over the decades: in April of this year, in one night of sudden and torrential rains I lost more than 230 heads of livestock. ”
A Cheese producer from the Cuban delegation intervenes to explain that the island has recently been beaten by five different hurricanes, the power of which is related to rising water temperatures. Hurricane Irma had a power of 7,000 billion watts (about twice that of the bombs used during the Second World War) and left 40% of the population without electricity, damaging the country’s most touristic part.
It is not a matter of individual impressions, because in support of them there is scientific data: “We are closing the second hottest summer and the fourth driest since 1753, in Italy and in much of Mediterranean Europe,” recalls climatologist Luca Mercalli .
Until now, these upheavals have had a disparate impact: some areas of the Northern Hemisphere have even benefited. But not for much longer, researchers from the Italian Meteorological Society, Guglielmo Ricciardi and Alessandra Buffa, say: “By 2030, harvest reduction will see an exponential increase in damage to benefits.”
The agricultural sector is among the most impacted in terms of greenhouse gases, with 21% of emissions being second only to energy-related activities (37%). The enteric fermentation of industrial breeding covers 70% of this data.
“However, we must not focus only on the evaluation of the main activities,” warn meteorologists, “but to evaluate preproduction (feed and fertilizer) and postproduction (transport, storage, packaging). CO2 emissions are not the only parameter to consider: the geographic context of production, the soil quality and their level of toxicity and use as a low resource, the use of water and biosphere (water footprint and ecological footprint)”.
Although FAO also stresses the need to go to a multi-spatial survey that takes into account the effects of climate change on food security, nutrition and biodiversity loss, we are still far from having a comprehensive view of the chain.
Just as we know too little about how the global ocean works, confirms marine biologist Silvio Greco: “While climate change offers different signals on the ground, in the waters this does not happen. We know for sure that the ocean does something extraordinary: It gives us 50% of our breath, storing CO2. Yet we are crushing it.”
This year, Australian biologists have decreed the death of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef on the planet with over 2300 km of corals. But the situation is no better for us in familiar waters: “The Mediterranean is even more compromised. The problem of salt rising here adds to the strong salinity of a closed environment, acidification, the arrival of 300 invasive alien species,” continued Greco.
The Mediterranean hosts 25% of the world’s marine biodiversity and 30% of the trade, but now it also has 1 ton of plastic per 3 tons of fish.
Faced with all this, Greco concludes, “We can not do like Odysseus did in front of sirens. The scientific community is forced to hear the cry of the Earth and to say things as they are.”
But we too can do a lot: choosing what to put on our plate is a political act.