Conflicting favorite foods

Written by Kajsa IngelssonSeptember 4, 2019

Most of the sustainability talk surrounding food is directed towards the meat and dairy industry. Now you know my stance on this, I absolutely feel like it’s imperative that we switch to a plant based diet and move away from animal derived food like yesterday.

However, the problems doesn’t stop there. Our eco systems are delicate and made to be in balance, and the (mostly) men in power are exploiting not only our planet but also poor workers for monetary gain.

An easy but slightly more expensive option is of course to always buy your food fairtrade and organic.

But before doing that, here’s the list of the most conflicting foods in the world with some paragraphs making their case;

Often grown in East Asia and processed in dire conditions, the cashew nut liquid can inflict vicious burns and lesions on the workers who shell them by hand.⁠

Deforestation and child and slave labour is often the dark side our your favorite treat. In general, cocoa farmers also lack training and guidance on sustainable and diversified agriculture to improve productivity, to increase the quality of their cocoa beans and practice agriculture in ways which are not harmful to the environment.

82% of the world’s almonds are grown in drought stricken California, and almonds need to be watered all year around! It takes approximately 3,7 liter (1 gallon) of water to produce a single almond, with 3.8 million litres used per acre of almond trees. ⁠

Farmers are thinning out huge pine forests in order to plant. Deforestation is particularly concentrated in Michoacán, home to the wintering grounds of the monarch butterfly.⁠

A far larger share of the world’s coffee is being grown in direct sunlight, rather than under the shade of a canopy of trees. These full-sun coffee farms are said to be much like large plots of monoculture.⁠ Continuous monoculture, or monocropping, where the same species is grown year after year,can lead to the quicker buildup of pests and diseases, and then rapid spread where a uniform crop is susceptible to a pathogen

Quinoa consumption can have detrimental effects in the fields in Peru and Bolivia where the grain is farmed. The hike in prices has pushed the very people that farm quinoa out of their own marketplace.⁠

Ecosystems throughout Latin America are suffering from extreme deforestation to grow soybeans. The Amazon, the Gran Chaco, and the Atlantic Forests are all victims—almost four million hectares of forests are destroyed every year. These legumes are mostly used as animal feed for livestock.

Palm oil:
Often found in snacks and prepacked food. Palm oil is one of the most destructive crops out there and a big part why our rainforests are burning.

I know we like to think that if we eliminate straws and plastic bags, we’ll have solved our oceans plastic issue. However, over 50% of ocean plastic waste comes from the fishing industry. And that’s what we need to change. Plastic kills marine life partially because of strangulation or choking. But the larger reason plastic is so dangerous is that it releases toxic chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) when it breaks down. BPA, which mimics estrogen, messes with our hormones and can be carcinogenic. A recent study found that plastic also kills coral reefs by making them more susceptible to disease.

Animals mistake plastic for food and eat it, which kills them. A UK study found that 1 in 3 fish caught for human consumption now contain microplastics, and those toxic chemicals work their way up the food chain to us. Nearly 700 species, at least 17% of them endangered, are affected by marine debris. In some beaches on the Big Island in Hawaii, microplastics can make up as much as 15% of the sand.

Each year more than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles get caught in abandoned or lost fishing nets, long lines, fish traps and lobster pots. 79% of reported deaths or harm to marine life are due to entanglement, and a 2019 study also found that 60% of animals had their entire body trapped, as they twist within the nets and become completely entangled.

Since corn is a primary food source for both humans and animals, it’s in huge demand and must be farmed in vast quantities using chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Most corn grown today is also GMO’s. Agricultural run-off causes these chemicals to infiltrate our rivers and waterways, and the pollution can severely deplete oxygen and nutrients and make it hard for flora and fauna to survive. A better option would be to choose sweetcorn, since it’s less intensively farmed than standard corn, or source your corn produce at a local farmer’s market or other ethical location.