We’re continuing the glimpses into what we’re covering in our current series of informal Carbon Conversations. Here is the fifth…
Participant Ben has written his own response to this week’s meeting, all about exploring carbon reduction in our Food.
Ben’s comments:

” Monday evening in Tooting….cold, damp with a mid-summer mist clinging to the trees across the common.
And here we are, huddled around Jane’s dining room table for our fifth Carbon Conversations session.
This evening’s topic is food. As ever, the discussion is thought-provoking and far-reaching.

We discuss our personal relationships with food. We feel that food can be the source of positive things (pleasure, socialising, creativity) as well as negative (neuroses, ethical dilemmas, health concerns).

Then we play a board game where we assess the carbon footprint of different food items. I’d never thought about food production in such an atomised way (production, processing, packaging and transport are all very distinct parts of the production line from plough to plate).

The game throws up some surprises.
Frozen chicken nuggets flown to the UK from Thailand are bad all round – high carbon at every stage of the process.
But because 48% of food’s carbon emissions are embedded in the production part of the process, a piece of Irish cheddar comes out pretty high in C02 emissions as well (the production of cheddar involves the rearing of cows, their feed, methane the cows produce, etc, which is all very carbon-intensive).

It is also interesting to note that something that’s travelled from afar isn’t necessarily bad –slow, long distance transport of non-perishable items by ship can be quite low in carbon. So, a few surprises here!

Very Local:
British-grown, good for you!
Very Very Local:
Sown, grown and
eaten in Tooting!

What are the prospects of making lifestyle changes on the basis of all this?

The prospects are good I’d say. Low-carbon food tends to be healthier and cheaper. Indeed, the best food of all is stuff you’ve grown yourself: low-carbon, super cheap, and super healthy. So, the moral of the story? Dust off your gardening gloves, grab a trowel, and get planting.
The future of food consumption is local produce.
It’s a no-brainer.”

Thank you very much, Ben!
Next week is our 6th meeting: the finale of our 8th Tooting Carbon Conversations. All welcome to join us next time we offer the series.

A very relevant article titled: Planting potatoes into policy: why town planners must think about local food’ was in The Guardian on 14 May. Read it by clicking here.