How Filipino women can make food sustainable

Muh-muh-meat

Filipino women could be a potent force in making food more sustainable, a report from by international non-profit organization Oxfam suggests.

According to Oxfam’s “The Food Transformation: Harnessing Consumer Power to Create a Fair Food Future,” 85 percent of Filipino women surveyed were willing to give up meat and 96 percent were interested in finding ways to use less energy when cooking. The same survey found that 86 percent of respondents from the Philippines “feel they know how the food choices they make affect the wider world.” In contrast, only 46 percent from the U.S. did.

That matters because, according to the report, raising cows for beef requires more resources than growing vegetables or beans. It takes 6,810 liters of water to produce 500 grams of beef versus just 818 liters to produce 500 grams of beans, Oxfam said. Raising livestock also produces more greenhouse gases.

“Meat production is putting a lot of pressure on our environment: it’s water-hungry and land-hungry, as well as creating greenhouse gas emissions,” Oxfam said.

Oxfam estimates that if urban households in the U.S., UK, Spain and Brazil give up meat for just one meal a week, that would mean nine and a half million fewer cows that would need to be raised and butchered a year. “That would mean over 900,000 tons less methane being produced every year, making as much of a difference to the environment as taking over 3.7 million cars off the road for a year,” the report said.

Using less energy for cooking also matters because of the impact it has on the environment and on the pocket. Oxfam said even simple tweaks could cut energy costs. When cooking vegetables, for example, using just enough water to cover the vegetables, cooking them in a flat-bottomed pan covered with a lid, and reducing heat as soon as the water boils could lower costs by up to 70 percent.

“If all urban households in Brazil, India, the Philippines, Spain, the UK and the USA took these simple steps, over 30 million megawatt hours of energy could be saved every year. The benefit for the environment would be greater than if these same households each planted a tree seedling and let it grow for ten years,” Oxfam said.

“The survey shows Filipino women can be a force to fix the way we manage food. Filipino women – and men, who must begin share this responsibility – can do this through positive food choices, choices that redound to the good of our food system,” Kalayaan Pulido-Constantino, Oxfam spokesperson for the Philippines, said in a statement released with the report.

The survey was conducted among 5100 mothers in Brazil, India, the Philippines, UK, USA, and Spain.

Originally filed for Yahoo! Southeast Asia, but they didn’t publish it. So here.

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