Developments in agriculture, supply chain management and an increase in food trends have all led to a world full of choice that threatens to starve countries of water and damage the environment.
Variety, price, dietary trends and concerns about animal welfare have all contributed to a rise in the purchase of alternatives to traditional, local, seasonal produce. Dairy consumption in the UK, per capita, has been falling steadily since the 1950s whilst the rise in so called “healthy” alternatives such as almond milk has been increasing rapidly.
The impact of our food choices is being assessed in our course ‘Environmental Impacts Of My Food Products’. Research carried out at Cranfield University into water and carbon footprints by Prof. Tim Hess and Adrian Williams has put the spotlight on the water and carbon footprint of our food with some alarming discoveries. The unsustainability of almond milk is just one example. The course will also look at how the water footprint of New Zealand lamb is smaller than that of British and the how Spanish tomatoes have a lower carbon footprint than those grown in the UK.
In their wider study, Prof. Tim Hess and Dr Chloe Sutcliffe from Cranfield, compared the amount of blue water needed to produce dairy milk and almond milk. Blue water is water collected for human consumption or industrial and agricultural applications such as irrigation. By contrast “green water” is naturally occurring rainwater that is used by plants or absorbed into the soil. To produce one litre of almond milk requires a staggering one hundred and seven litres of blue water. In comparison, a litre of dairy milk requires just eight litres. The huge variance in the consumption of blue water is more alarming when consideration is given to the geography and climates of the areas that produce almonds.
Huge amounts of blue water are being used in areas that receive little rainfall. This has raised concerns that water reserves are being used for agriculture and fear that there will not be enough water to sustain local populations in the future. Little to no messaging is used at the point of sale, on packaging or in the marketing of food products like almond milk to communicate the impact its production has on the environment. The impact of shifting choice towards new products that have overwhelmingly greater water or carbon footprints than traditional alternatives has to be communicated to prevent unnecessary harm being caused irresponsibly.
The course will cover how to calculate water and carbon footprints with the aim of encouraging participants to apply this methodology to their businesses or working practices. The future will undoubtably see packaging and point of sale that details carbon and water footprints in the same way that consumers are already alerted to food miles today. Those taking part in the course will be offered a chance to pioneer this message and lead the sector. Sustainability in the food chain is paramount and the impact our food choices are having on the environment must be recognised and highlighted to consumers.
If you are involved in food chain management, sustainability or agriculture and want to understand how our food choices are impacting on the environment then you should look at this course in more detail and apply. For more information click here ‘Environmental Impacts Of My Food Products’.
We are offering a 25% discount for this as our featured course. Please use the code ‘FOOTPRINT’ to receive your 25% discount. You can enter this code into the 'Promotional / Discount Code' field, which is located in the 'Funding and Finance' section of the AFTP application form. Further discounts are available for group bookings so please contact us on 0330 333 4530 to discuss bringing a group.
The University of Reading
PO Box 226, Whiteknights
Reading RG6 6AP
T. +44 (0)330 333 4530