Grow Your Own Food

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint – Grow Your Own Food

One of the important steps on the pathway to a zero-carbon future is learning how to grow your own food. You can grow in a garden or an allotment, on a balcony or patio, or even on a sunny windowsill. But no matter where you grow your own, it can make a big difference. The more control you can take for what you eat, the easier it will be to reduce your carbon footprint.

The Carbon Footprint of Food

Food production currently accounts for around 26% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. 21% of the total food emissions come from arable crop production for human consumption. And yet that is not the entire picture. This does not include industrial emissions associated with the creation of synthetic fertilizers (Commonly used on non-organic farms). Ammonia, largely used for agricultural fertilization, is one of the four biggest industrial emitters. It accounts for 0.5 Gton CO2 annually.

How much you can reduce your carbon footprint by growing your own will depend on what you currently eat. When you start to try to calculate the carbon cost of your diet, you need to consider:

- The balance of your current diet and lifestyle choices. (Are you a meat-eater? If so, how much meat do you eat? Are you pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan?)

- How much you spend on food/ how much food you consume on average every year.

- Where and how the food you currently choose was grown. (For example, was the food grown organically? Was it grown in large, mono-crop plantations?)

- Food miles (i.e. how far food has traveled to reach you.)

It is challenging to work out exactly how much you can reduce carbon emissions by growing your own. But it is clear that growing your own can help you cut carbon in a range of different ways.

How Growing Your Own Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Growing at least some fresh produce at home can:

- Make it easier for you to reduce meat and dairy consumption and move towards a more plant-based diet.

- Reduce the amount of food you must buy overall (or even allow you to become self-sufficient in fruits, vegetables, and herbs).

- Take control over growing methods and grow organically. (Non-organic growing has a far higher carbon footprint than organic growing. It also avoids a negative impact on the environment in other ways.)

- Reduce food miles. With such a minimal distance from soil to plate, home growing can eliminate food miles.

If you have a garden, you can even help offset some emissions through carbon gardening. Carbon gardening means planting and managing your garden to maximize carbon capture and storage in plants and soil. Planting trees and other perennial plants (in a forest garden, for example), composting, finding other methods to add organic matter to the soil and caring for the soil are all key strategies. So by growing your own, you might not only reduce emissions. You might also be able to mitigate global warming through carbon sequestration.

It is easier than you might imagine to grow food. So wherever you live, this is a great step to take towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly way of life.