The food on your plate
What price are you willing to pay for the food on your plate?
Just keep that question in the back of your mind as you read on.
We have currently entered a new suggested geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Also known as The Sixth Mass Extinction. To put that in to perspective; during the last mass extinction the dinosaurs died out. Of course these extinctions happen regardless of whether human beings exist. Climate is continuously changing, ice ages come and go. Species die out, and new species evolve. But it's difficult to overlook the fact that this extinction occurs in a rate 1000 times faster than previous mass extinctions. That is, before us humans were involved.
The climate is doing perfectly fine with or without us. Climate does not depend on species. But species are dependent on climate. We can not manage without the delicate balance that is the basis for our own survival.
This is sounding very grim, because it is. We have a common enemy now, and the threat isn't coming from outside. We have created a monster we can not handle, and the name of this monster is Compulsive Consumption. There is reason to panic. I myself have been panicked ever since I was 6 years old and joined a climate awareness club for children, with a purple octopus mascot.
But now is not the time to be paralyzed. Because all of this is telling us something important; that if there is one thing we humans are good at it is changing the world, and fast. And consumption isn't only a monster, it is also power. Power and influence to change.
It is very easy to become overwhelmed by the scale and complexity of this massive issue. But making a difference isn't difficult at all. And this brings us back to my initial question; what price are you willing to pay for the food on your plate?
Do you want to buy cheap meat? In that case I hope you're okay with paying for deforestation, political conflicts and social unrest in Brazil. Not to mention greenhouse gas emissions from long distance food imports. Norwegian farmers can no longer afford to
let the animals feed in our own outfields. Our cattle stay in the barn and feed on Brazilian soy products. At the same time, enormous grazing areas in Norway stay unutilized. Areas that are unsuitable for farming, but can be used directly for food production by letting animals go outside and graze.
Would you like to eat Norwegian fish? That fish has most likely stayed frozen for weeks on a huge fishing trawler before being sold cheaply on the global fish trade market. Perhaps it ended up in China to get repacked before finding its way back to Norwegian fish counters where we can purchase it for cheap. At the same time, Norwegian fishermen are being squeezed out of our own waters because they cannot afford to buy fishing quotas. The price we pay is 5 times more emissions per kilogram of fish.
Do you think a few dollars extra is too much to pay for organically grown vegetables? In reality, what you are paying for is arable land, living insects and biodiversity. The UN has concluded that we have only 60 harvests left if we continue using the same industrial farming methods. We are currently losing 24 billion tons of arable land each year. At the same time the world's population is increasing, and so is the need for food. In addition to this, we are straight out destroying vast areas of arable land by building cities, malls and industrial areas on top of it.
This isn't merely an unsolvable calculation.
It's pure madness.
Fortunately, large numbers of organizations, philanthropists and scientists are turning every stone in order to overcome these problems. We have technology and clever solutions on our side. What we need is wise consumers making informed choices to support the positive development, and encourage politicians and companies who manage our resources to choose good long-term solutions.
Everything we do matters.
On the flip side, so does everything we don't.