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Join us for a Low Carbon Lunch

Join us for a #LowCarbonLunch on 29th September!

 Hull Food Partnership is joining with Sustainable Food Places and other Food Partnerships across the country in taking part in a national day of celebration and action for the climate on Wednesday 29th September.

Whether you are an individual eating lunch solo or an organisation serving food, you can join in on 29th September by organising a ‘low carbon lunch’. We’d love you to join us and demonstrate your support by sharing your #LowCarbonLunch with us on social media.

What is a #LowCarbonLunch?

The six key elements of a #LowCarbonLunch are as follows:

  • Mostly vegetables and pulses (if we all ate 5-a-day, we could increase the UK Veg production value by £261million AND if we all ate 7-a-day, we could add another £1billion)
  • Seasonal for maximum flavour and affordability (look for vegetables and pulses that are local, seasonal, grown sustainably)
  • Locally sourced to build community wealth (making more sustainable food choices can boost the local economy, supports local communities, your health and the planet)
  • Less and better quality meat and dairy (more veg and better meat supports nature friendly farmers, happier animals and cuts carbon/methane emissions)
  • Minimally processed (intensive food production is responsible for up to 30% of global emissions and 70% of freshwater use)
  • No food wasted (it is important to reduce food waste so that we ease the pressure on land and minimise our carbon footprint)

If you or your organisation is inspired to get involved, let us know on twitter by tagging @FoodPlacesUK & @FoodHull and using hashtags #Food4Planet #LowCarbonLunch #FoodPartnerships and #LowCarbonHull in your social media in the run-up to the day and on the day itself.

A low carbon lunch will most certainly be a colourful lunch that is not only good for the planet but good for our health and a feast to our taste buds!

Organisations that serve food may wish to change the food they offer on the day, for instance by replacing meat, using only local and seasonal ingredients or including meat from agro-ecological or regenerative farms.

The last thing to remember is to eat everything you cook or serve and if you can’t use it, take it home or give it to someone else.

Further resources

There are a number of excellent resources to help individuals and caterers adopt planet-friendly menus:

  • Friends of the Earth’s ‘Kale Yeah’ toolkit helps incentivise and promote more sustainable dishes.
  • The One Planet Plate project from the Sustainable Restaurant Association contains a library of over 2,000 recipes with low-or-no meat.
  • Check out five top-tips from proveg – one of the businesses supporting the Public Sector Catering #20percentlessmeat campaign. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why a #LowCarbonLunch?

The food system is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Here in the UK, food contributes up to 30% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we waste 10 million tonnes of food every year and 90% of fisheries are fully exploited or overfished.

In November, the UK will host the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to accelerate action to tackle Climate Change. Yet despite its importance, action on food is unlikely to feature high in the agenda of the international negotiations. To achieve the UK’s climate and other goals we must reduce levels of food waste and consumption of the most carbon-intensive foods.

75% of councils have declared a climate emergency and many have set a carbon neutral target for their area but very few are taking substantive action on food in the context of climate change.

We can also make a positive impact on our planet by buying meat from farms with high animal welfare standards and a low impact on nature and biodiversity. The simplest way of doing this is choosing products with a credible animal welfare certification such as RSPCA Assured, LEAF marque, organic or Pasture for Life.

Does what I eat really have an effect on climate change?

Yes. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) estimates that the food system accounts for 21-37% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. In the UK, food accounts for 30% of our GHGs. That includes raising and harvesting all the plants, animals and animal products we eat as well as processing, packaging and transporting food across the world.

Which foods have the biggest impact?

Meat and dairy, particularly from cows, have a larger impact, with livestock accounting for around 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases each year. That’s roughly the same amount as the emissions from all transport including all the car, lorries, aeroplanes and ships combined in the world today!

But, not all meat and dairy is equal. Where and how an animal was reared, and what it ate, matters for climate change, antibiotic use and animal welfare. We recommend buying meat, fish and dairy from more sustainable sources with higher animal welfare standards such as Organic, RSPCA Assured, LEAF Marque or Pasture For Life.

For vegetables, the lowest emissions come from seasonal, field-grown, UK-cultivated vegetables grown without additional heating or protection, which are not fragile or easily spoiled.

The BBC have a useful seasonal calendar to help you find seasonal produce and remember it’s easy to preserve or freeze seasonal food and use it later in the year. 

Moreover, local supply chains generate community wealth building including local employment. For example, North Ayrshire Council estimates that for every £1 spent through the Food For Life Served Here certification programme* there is social, economic and environmental return of £4.41.

* This certification requires meals to be freshly prepared from seasonal ingredients and sourced locally from higher environmental and animal welfare standards. 

Is a climate-friendly diet good for our health?

Yes, a diet high in fruit and vegetables, low in meat and dairy, and low in ultra-processed food like sugary drinks is very good for our health as well as our planet.

Consumption of meat has increased steadily over the last decades and stands above recommended levels. The Eatwell Guide recommends that adults and children should eat no more than 70 gram/day of red and processed meat but consumption, particularly in men, is higher than the recommended. On the other hand, it is estimated that diets low in vegetables are causing 18,000 premature deaths a year. 

Does sustainable food cost more?

Britons spend a lot less on food than we used to and in fact the UK is currently one of the cheapest places for food in Europe, but, a variety of reasons such as high housing costs and low wages means 1 in 5 people in the UK would need to spend 40% of their disposable income to have the healthy diet laid out in the government’s Eatwell Guide.

Healthier foods such as fruit and vegetables tend to have low GHG emissions but the Food Foundation’s 2021 Broken Plate report found that healthy foods are nearly three times as expensive as non-healthy foods per calorie and that more deprived areas have a higher proportion of fast food outlets. 

However, the “Livewell” diet from WWF which recommends eating healthier and more sustainable food is roughly the same price as the current UK diet while the carbon footprint is substantially smaller. If the government ensured everyone could afford this diet, it would go a long way to improving the health of many and reduce the impact on climate change.

What role is there for councils?

Councils have a significant role to play in tackling the climate emergency and will be key players in reaching the 2050 Net Zero target set by the UK Government. Their role in decarbonising transport or housing is well acknowledged and resourced, but considerably less attention is given to their role in tackling emissions from the food system.

Nevertheless, councils are well placed to influence the local food system and reduce GHG emissions associated with procurement, food waste or land use. As institutions they have a wide range of levers, which may include direct control over school meals, planning decisions, allotments, food waste collection and management, and in some cases even ownership of farmland. They have some degree of influence over local food businesses and frequently reach out to residents via their own comms channels and campaigns.

Despite their direct control and influence, few councils are including action on food as part of their climate action strategies and action plans.

That is why as part of the food and climate day of celebration and action, members of the Sustainable Food Places Network will be asking their councils to sign the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration and to move from declaration to action. 

Download the briefing and call on your council to take action here: Food_and_climate_briefing

Download your poster to promote the #LowCarbonLunch here: Join the #LowCarbonLunch poster

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