To take on climate change, we have to come together to transform the food system.
Asked what we as individuals can do to help solve the climate crisis, most of us could recite these eco-friendly mantras from memory: Change our light bulbs! Drive less! Choose energy-efficient appliances! Food rarely enters the climate conversation, though this is beginning to change. Awareness about how our dietary choices contribute to the crisis crisis, especially our appetite for meat, is on the rise.
Indeed, industrial meat and dairy production alone are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the world’s transportation combined. And industrial farming—which largely produces animal feed, biofuels, industrial materials, and unhealthy food products and food additives—is a big part of the problem too. With its reliance on synthetic fertilizers, fossil fuels, and petroleum-based chemicals, the industrial food system contributes at least one third of all greenhouse gas emissions.
And those who contribute least to the climate crisis are those who suffer disproportionately from its impacts. Low-income countries and communities are the most vulnerable to increasingly powerful storms and droughts, pollution-related health effects like respiratory illness, diseases caused by temperature shifts, crop loss and food insecurity, and conflicts intensified by a changing climate.
Unfortunately, many proposed solutions to climate change—like carbon trading or genetically modified crops—fail to address the root cause of both climate change and vulnerability: a system that accumulates profits for a handful of corporations and individuals at the expense of the majority of the world’s people and environments.
With a problem this big, can becoming vegetarian or eating organic help to solve it? Yes and no. Without a doubt, dietary change has to be part of the solution. North Americans and Europeans currently eat a whopping 183 pounds of meat (mainly beef, pork, and chicken) per year, with devastating impacts on the environment, not to mention public health and animal welfare. But unless we put a stop to the massive corporate subsidies that favor industrial agriculture—and shift support towards energy-saving, real-food-producing, and biodiversity-enhancing agroecology—we have little hope of making a dent.
Luckily, there is hope. And that hope lies in building movements for just and sustainable community-based food systems that can take on corporate power and heal the planet. People are already doing it!
The resources in this toolkit will help you organize a fun and engaging film viewing event that highlights local and global initiatives for food & climate justice, exposes corporate greenwashing, and inspires people to join the movement.