It’s easy, with all the media coverage on case numbers and the latest lock-down rules, to get caught up in the repercussions Coronavirus is having on our lives and lose sight of what caused our current pandemic.
Coronavirus didn’t just happen. At worst we caused this. At best we made it much more likely to happen. And we did it through our plates; what we eat everyday.
The link between our plates and Coronavirus
The connection between our daily food choices and this pandemic can be made in three steps.
1 – Scientists tell us that it is most likely Coronavirus started in a bat population. This type of disease is classed as zoonotic.
2 – Zoonotic disease transmission is made much more likely due to deforestation.
3 – A huge cause of deforestation is the food that we eat.
So often during this crisis we’ve felt, or being made to feel, helpless. We are not helpless. We can change our future and substantially decrease the likelihood of another Corona-style pandemic. All we need do is change what we put on our plates.
What is it on our plates that is causing the problem?
The industrial rearing of animals for food accounts for the largest proportion of deforestation.
There are two ways in which this industry is destructive:
Firstly, land is cleared to house the animals, and secondly, the livestock is fed on crops such as soy.
Soy plantations are a huge driver of deforestation. A large amount of this soy goes to feed animals; some is used to bulk out pre-made meat products; a small percentage is eaten directly by humans.
There are other, lesser players in deforestation that many of us consume every day. Two examples of this are chocolate and coffee.
What we must do to our plates to prevent another Corona
Be brave enough, and give a damn enough, to give our resources to food that is more expensive.
It’s easy to want to world to change. It’s much harder to give up things to do our part to make it happen without knowing whether we’re going to make a blind bit of difference to the outcome.
But we must. Because if we – you and me – don’t, nothing changes. Ever.
We must spend as much of our money as we can on food.
We must take time to find and buy from local producers.
We must give our energy to knowing about what’s on our plates.
Bring food home; to our kitchens, our gardens, our towns and our countries.
Locally-produced food is a panacea. It stops the machines that fell trees in their tracks. It halts deforestation and the dislocation of potentially disease-carrying wildlife in its tracks. We must get our food from as close to our homes as possible.
Choose real food over packages.
Real food is something that you have to work with in your kitchen, is not packed out with soy to make it cheaper.
Read labels and buy from companies that care.
If we choose to eat cocoa products or coffee we need to entrust the growth of it to companies that care for its production, not just their year-end profit. It is clear on labels – we need to notice and support these projects.
Change our meat-eating habits.
If we choose to continue eating meat we need to:
1 – Eat less meat. Fewer days a week; smaller portions.
2 – Eat all of the animal. The offal, full of nutrients, that most modern societies shun.
3 – Buy meat locally. With no demand for industrially-reared meat, deforestation for animals stops.
4 – Know what that animal ate. ‘Organic’ is not enough, if the animal that gave us the meat on our plates ate soy or corn, forests have most probably been cut down for our meal.
The onus is on us – you and I – to make this change. Governments are not and will not enact the necessary change. We must take the lead in stopping the forces that helped cause Coronavirus. And we can do it with something as simple, and yet as profound, as the food we put on our plates every day.