Food focus for biodiversity day | WWF South Africa

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Food focus for biodiversity day

What we eat and how food arrives on our tables is one of the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss.

Nature is the larder that provides us with the food we put on our tables – yet what we eat and how it arrives on our tables is one of the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss.

This is why this year’s theme for International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May is “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”, highlighting the link between healthy ecosystems and human health which is underpinned by many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

In announcing the theme, the Secretariat of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity said more than 90% of crop varieties have disappeared in the last 100 years and half the breeds of many domestic animals have been lost. In addition, all of the world’s 17 main fishing grounds are being fished at or above their sustainable limits.

The WWF South Africa report Agri food-systems: Facts and Futures makes the case for dramatic changes to the current food system to reverse the impact food production is having on the natural world. The report argues for urgent intervention in five key areas, namely regenerative farming, optimal water use, responsible sourcing, reducing food waste and dietary shifts.

WWF CEO Dr Morné du Plessis commented: “In South Africa, we must meet people’s nutritional needs through more sustainable agricultural and fishing practices. Such practices not only protect the environment, but also improve human health and support livelihoods. Ideally, our diets should be rich in diversity while preserving nature and ensuring that there is sufficient food for all. This is why so much of our work focuses on food: from the WWF Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI) that promotes better seafood choices, to working with land reform communities in the grasslands.”
Advice for a more human and planet friendly diet:

  • Eat a diverse diet that is rich in plants, fruits, legumes, nuts and wholegrains and lower in meat and dairy. If you choose to eat meat, don’t eat too much and find out where it comes from. Free range meat is better for the environment.

  • Avoid processed and convenience foods which are bad for your health and typically have a higher environmental footprint, including the unnecessary and unrecyclable packaging associated with it.

  • Reduce your food waste. Avoid buying in bulk which can lead to waste and compost what you can.

  • Find the time to cook with family and friends rather than indulge in takeaways.

  • Eat local and seasonal foods.

  • Whenever you can, support smallholder farmers and small food businesses.

  • Encourage and support breastfeeding mothers.

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