Eating guide suggests ways New Brunswickers can reduce carbon footprint through food

·2 min read
Laura Reinsborough, director of Food For All NB, said her group released the document to get people thinking more about how they can reduce their carbon footprint by changing the foods they buy. (Twitter - image credit)
Laura Reinsborough, director of Food For All NB, said her group released the document to get people thinking more about how they can reduce their carbon footprint by changing the foods they buy. (Twitter - image credit)

A group working to strengthen food security wants to help New Brunswickers reduce the impact their eating choices have on the environment.

Food for All New Brunswick has released a guide that aims to get residents thinking more about how and where their food is grown, and the impact this has on climate change.

"Often, food is kind of left out of the conversation when it comes to talking about how to address climate change," director Laura Reinsborough told CBC's Shift NB.

"So this guide tries to give that really nuanced conversation on how to make sense of our food choices."

The guide opens by discussing what climate change is and how food production itself is responsible for about 26 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

"New Brunswick is seeing more frequent extreme weather events, and the resulting impacts on our food such as the repeat flooding of the Wolastoq [St. John River] affecting fiddlehead foraging, and the 2020 summer of drought affecting hay supplies," says the guide.

The guide also discusses the environmental and economic benefits of buying foods that are grown closer to home.

This relates specifically to New Brunswick, according to the guide, as 93 per cent of the vegetables consumed in the province are imported, which means even more greenhouse gases are emitted before landing on people's plates.

"That said, how food is transported matters more than distance," the guide says. "Transport by truck or ship is about [10] times more energy efficient than air, and rail is about 10 times more efficient than truck or ship."

Buying more local foods could also help the economy, according to the guide, which says that for every $10 spent in New Brunswick, $4.50 "leaks" out of the local economy.

"A small shift towards buying locally in the Atlantic region — just 10% — would result in an increase in GDP of $4.7 billion," the guide says.

According to An Eater's Guide to Climate Action, for every $10 spent on food in New Brunswick, $4.50 'leaks' out of the local economy.
According to An Eater's Guide to Climate Action, for every $10 spent on food in New Brunswick, $4.50 'leaks' out of the local economy.(Food For All NB)

Other eating choices that can be made to lessen the environmental impact of eating.v

"In Canada, we eat a lot more meat per person than the global average," according to the guide, which says greenhouse gas emissions would drop substantially if everyone were on a vegan diet.

Reinsborough said the document is meant to be a starting point for people interested in making their diets more environmentally friendly, but added it's not only up to individual citizens to make changes.

"We see that it's about individual change teamed with systemic change, so there are actions in here about, you know, writing to your MLA, an MP, so that they know how people feel," she said.

With municipal elections coming up in May, Reinsborough said, it's also an opportune time to make sustainable food production a priority for communities.