Ask the Expert: How to eat for a 1.5 degree world

The Future Food Movement community is built around driving sustainable change within the food industry, but how can we expect to make a difference here if we don’t look at our own eating habits? In this Ask the Expert session, FFM coach Mary Purdy explores the ways we can make personal nutrition choices that are good for our own health, as well as the health of the planet.

Changing our food system is critical if we’re to hit our Paris Agreement climate targets. Getting to the root of this, however, means fundamentally changing what and how we eat. As Mary says at the very start of the session, there are a number of key considerations here.

Food is inherently personal, she says. It connects us to ourselves, to our culture and to our communities. For many, there are also accessibility and affordability factors at play. As such, making dietary changes can be a challenge when there are conflicting perspectives at work. But, Mary says, it can be helpful to approach it from a ‘both/and’ perspective – to keep an open mind in our approach towards food.

Equally, it’s not about making a complete 180 turn on our diets, but rather about taking small steps that make a difference. “There’s no perfect way to eat sustainably,” says Mary. “It’s about being mindful of how we consume food within planetary boundaries.”

Globally, the food system is responsible for one third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This includes a variety of impacts, such as land-use change, agrochemicals, logistics, food preparation and of course, food waste. “So there are lots of places where we can make better choices,” says Mary. Additionally, she adds, making planet-friendly health choices often leads to better health outcomes. “What’s good for the planet tends to be good for us, too.”

To frame her recommendations for a 1.5°C diet, Mary outlines four key challenges in food production, and how they’re impacting both the environment and human health.

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