The Sustainable Food Places Network is leading a Food and Climate Day of Celebration and Action on Wednesday 29 September 2021, and we want everyone to get involved! 

 Our food contributes about 30% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UK and across the food chain we waste about 10 million tons of food every year. The COP 26 UN Climate Conference in Glasgow is coming up in November so now is a great time to put the spotlight on food.   

 The good news is that food is an area where everyone – individuals, businesses, organisations and councils – can make a contribution and work together towards the same goal.  

 In order to reduce the GHG emissions from the food we eat we all need to: 

  • Eat less meat, of all types and make sure the meat we do eat is from the most beneficial production systems, like pasture and grass-fed and organic.
  • Eat less cheese, and moderate our milk consumption 
  • Eat more vegetables and fruit, including beans and pulses (good sources of protein), and choose vegetables and fruit that are in season and UK grown.
  • Minimise the food we throw away by using everything, preserving and home composting.

 The question about eating meat or not can be controversial, but in a livestock area like County Durham, much of the meat production is from largely grass-based farming systems so if you can buy locally produced meat you not only support local farmers, you also reduce your impact on the environment. 

 Small actions can add up to big change so here are some ideas we’d like you to consider signing up to. 

 If you’re an individual: 

  • Make yourself and your family a plant-based lunch or tea. September is great for seasonal UK-grown veg so you will have plenty of options.  You can find some ideas for recipes here. 
  • Hunt out some ‘better’ meat (certified organic or pasture-fed) at your local Farmers’ Market (find out when and where here), butchers (they should be able to tell you where it’s from) or the supermarket.   
  • Challenge yourself to make some meals only using food that you already have in your fridge or cupboards 
  • Get a food waste box from Re-F-Use CIC in Chester-le-Street or look out for food surplus projects like Junction 7 in Newton Aycliffe or the Community Pantry in St Helen Auckland. 
  • Ask your employer to get on board with the day, for instance, if you work at a local authority or large company, ask about their policies and procurement and see what can be improved.   

 If you’re a community venue or lunch club: 

  • Sign up to the County Durham Food Charter here 
  • Cook a low carbon lunch for your customers, for instance by reducing the amount of meat by 20% and replacing it with vegetables or pulses 
  • Focus on creating a colourful meal with lots of different or unusual vegetables  
  • Offer a tasty option that also happens to be vegetarian 
  • Tell your customers why you are doing it: taking action on the climate crisis is important for the next generation as well as our own and those of us with children or grandchildren we care about must act now. 

 If you’re a café or restaurant: 

  • Sign up to the County Durham Food Charter here 
  • Increase your vegetarian and/or vegan options for the day or the week 
  • Offer a special deal on vegetarian and /or vegan options 
  • Make an extra effort to use all ingredients you have in your fridges this week 
  • devise a system to compost any uncooked veg waste 
  • commit to growing your own herbs 

 If you’re a larger organisation or local authority: 

  • Offer your staff more vegetarian and vegan options for lunch 
  • Make a special effort to replace your usual meat with ‘better’, so certified organic or Pasture-Fed and make sure staff know about it 
  • Encourage your staff to make themselves a climate-friendly lunch and share on social media using the hashtag #lowcarbonlunch  
  • Commit to making permanent changes to the foods you offer and how they are sourced 
  • Create opportunities for staff to grow and pick edible plants on site 

And finally, please tell us and the wider world about what you’re doing. All members of the Sustainable Food Places Network will be encouraging their partners to publicise their actions on social media using #Food4Planet #lowcarbonlunch and #foodpartnership and tagging Food Durham.