Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Environmental impact of the food we eat

06.10.2005


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:
http://www.liu.se

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Trees and climate change: Faster growth, lighter wood
14.08.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Animals and fungi enhance the performance of forests
01.08.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

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: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>