Eating patterns linked to greenhouse gas levels

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DAVAO CITY—The more we eat, the more waste we create that could pollute our environment.

And the more we eat, the more energy is used to grow plants and raise animals to feed us.

A ranking environment official in Mindanao made these analogies as he called for a change in the eating habit of Filipinos, citing the tons of garbage people produce daily, which are a rich source of greenhouse gases, and the amount of energy wasted just to produce food, which end up in the dumps.

Datu Tungko Saikol, executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Mindanao, said in an e-mail statement that to help protect the environment and to conserve energy, people should be mindful of food preparation and eating habits.

Saikol said protecting the environment was not just about preventing tree-cutting.

He said aside from reducing food wastage, people should also patronize food that is organically grown or those packaged using recyclable materials.

“This is to lessen waste dumped into landfills that generate methane, a relatively potent greenhouse gas,” Saikol said.

He said based on data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, at least 1.3 billion metric tons of food are wasted every year.

“These are grim reminders for us to prevent food wastage in farms, in markets, in kitchens, and on the table,” he said.

On how energy used in food production is being wasted, Saikol said a report by the International Rice Research Institute

(Irri) showed that Filipinos waste too much rice.

The Irri report, he said, indicated that the amount of rice being sent to garbage dumps each day is worth more than P23 million.

“That’s about P8.4 billion a year,” he said, adding that a lot of energy had been used just for food production.

He said feeding the world’s estimated 7 billion people uses up a great deal of the earth’s resources, making food production “the single biggest driver of biodiversity loss.”

“By now, we should realize that the earth is a living, breathing entity, not something that is distinct or separated from us,” Saikol said. Allan Nawal and Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao

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