What’s the connection between the food on my plate and the climate?
Everyone knows now that global warming is expected to have very serious consequences on our food supply - crops, fishing and livestock.
The whole food chain will need to be reassessed, even with a temperature difference of only 2 or 3 degrees, which is the target of the Paris Agreement. Over the past century, France has warmed up by some 1.5 °C (Jouzel, 2015): it’s already started.
Droughts and floods, increasingly violent weather patterns: these are phenomena occurring more and more often around the world. In the oceans, the increase in water temperature combined with growing acidification is threatening fish and the environment they need to reproduce. Plants are developing diseases against which chemical treatments - already being challenged - are becoming powerless.
What role does farming play?
The problem is a double-edged sword: climate change affects farming and farming practices affect the climate.
- Since the end of World War II, the growth in farming based on the massive use of fertilisers and chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides) has helped to increase yields to ensure the planet’s food safety, but the environment has paid a high price for that. To mention a few of the consequences: the quality of the Earth is deteriorating, it is losing its topsoil layer and the soil is therefore becoming impoverished. So soils are less conducive to healthy plant growth. In Brazil, livestock farming is encroaching into the forest, as is the production of soya for animal feed. Besides the loss of biodiversity, this deforestation produces significant quantities of CO2.
- Climate change has also impacted farming: water requirements, selection of the most hardy species, appearance of diseases and parasites. Then there are the disruptions in the climate and the impact of frost or drought on crops.
Agro-ecology, sound and effective solutions
To feed the world whilst preventing the planet from heating up, the UN is encouraging agro-ecology, which is a historic watershed. In fact, agro-ecology can help to protect natural resources and biodiversity whilst at the same time promoting adaptation to climate change and mitigating its effects. This involves: Using nature’s capacity to optimise yields, save water and avoid insecticides, using natural fertilisers from animal waste, fostering biodiversity and selecting hardy species suited to the region etc.
What is Carrefour doing?
Carrefour is taking action on several levels:
- Mainly among producers and breeders to help them apply more environment-friendly farming methods:
o in Brazil, by using geo-location techniques to counter deforestation
o in China and Romania, by investing in farming cooperatives
o by drawing up agro-ecological specifications for the Carrefour Quality Lines
o by entering into partnerships with NGOs
o in France, by helping farmers and livestock breeders transitioning towards organic production methods
o by restoring “forbidden” seeds to favour in local cultures
- reaching customers through education
o in stores, using the theme of anti-waste, organic products and Carrefour Quality Lines
o and at events for the general public such as the Forum Méteo et Climat (Weather and Climate Forum) to be held in Paris, in front of the City Hall on 2-5 June.
What simple steps can I take to help?
There are some easy ways to limit the impact of our food on the climate
- buy products that are in season: when they are in season, they taste better and cost less.
- buy local or regional products, which are less expensive to transport
- try to reduce the amount of animal protein you eat, moving instead to nutrient-rich legumes
- and always avoid waste!
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