The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its sixth assessment report on the state of climate change in 2021. The report is an urgent cry to limit human-caused greenhouse gas emissions as the scientists found that climate change continues to accelerate, and the unequivocal cause is human activities. On the flip side, human behavior aimed at sustainable living and reducing emissions has huge potential to stabilize the climate. The time to act is now.
Global food production is intrinsically linked to climate change – both under threat from it and as a leading contributor. The IPCC report warns that rising temperatures threaten food security and equity as crops become harder to grow, water supplies diminish, and biodiversity decreases. Ironically, the current food production system is partially to blame. New estimates have found that food systems are responsible for 1/3 of global greenhouse gas emissions. Every step of the food chain – mass production, processing, packaging, and shipping – releases greenhouse gases. Processed foods and factory- farmed red meat are particularly energy-intensive to produce and account for a large percentage of food system emissions.
Investing in climate-friendly food production is critical in the fight against climate change. Responsibly produced foods like locally grown organic produce and free-range, grass-fed animal protein can not only limit the negative impacts of food production; they can help regenerate the environment. Regenerative agriculture works with nature to build diverse ecosystems and healthy soil that can capture and store excess CO2 from the atmosphere.
Eat REAL works to regenerate our planet by promoting these climate-friendly food choices in schools. Why schools? U.S. schools serve 7.35 billion meals each year, giving them an impact potential that out scales any other foodservice model. Our sustainability standards encourage schools to add more plant-based options to their menus, source local and in-season ingredients, implement farm-to-school programming, practice responsible waste management, and introduce climate-friendly food education in the cafeteria. By helping schools serve food that is both nutritious and climate-friendly, we can protect our children’s health and begin healing our planet.