Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Environmental impact of the food we eat


Swedes eat on average twice as much meat, and considerably more fruit and vegetables in the early 21st century than in the 1870s. Nevertheless, the surface area required to produce our food has decreased, measured per person. But this decrease is largely based on non-sustainable use of resources.

How did our eating habits, and food production, change between 1870 and 2000? And how have these changes in turn affected our environment? Tina Schmid Neset has studied these questions at the local level and is now presenting her findings in a doctoral dissertation at Water and Environmental Studies (Tema V), Linköping University, in Sweden.

The object of her study is the medium-sized city Linköping and its residents over the course of 130 years. She shows that the area needed per person today to produce food has diminished to one quarter of what it was in 1870. Today only 0.3 hectares per person would be needed if all food were produced locally.

However, in reality, the area in use per person is nearly twice as great, that is, 0.6 hectares, which is due to the fact that much of our food is imported and in some cases is produced using less intensive agricultural methods.

The dissertation discusses how today’s food production can be made more sustainable by reducing the use of finite resources like phosphorous and fossil energy. Tina Schmid Neset shows how the recycling of phosphorous, which was widespread in 1870, with the outhouses of that time, had virtually ceased by 1950. Linköping’s first water purification plant came on steam in 1952, when nearly all inhabitants had installed water closets. In 1972 equipment was installed to separate phosphorous-rich sludge. Since then the recycling of phosphorous has been slowly increasing. Today roughly one fifth of all phosphorous is reused as fertilizer.

At the global level, today’s rapid urbanization is a huge challenge to food production, according to Tina Schmid Neset. Phosphorous is a finite resource, and it is a “non-negotiable duty” to drastically reduce the losses of phosphorous in an urban purification system. This in turn is predicated upon a greater component of local production, in order to close the ecosystem.

Tina Schmid Neset also shows how reduced consumption of animal products would greatly decrease the land area needed per person to produce food. With a fully vegetarian diet, it would be possible to cut that area in half and considerably reduce the use of resources.

Anika Agebjörn | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>