Shrinking our Foodprint for Sustainable Futures
- Written by Lynne Lafave
Earth Day is an opportunity to pause and consider how we can each take action to protect the Earth for future generations. This global event is grounded in social responsibility and global citizenship, one of the key goals and dispositions of Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework.1
"learning in and about the natural world and learning how to act in environmentally responsible ways to become good stewards of the Earth"
As such, it is an educational priority to support young children in cultivating an understanding and appreciation of how our actions and choices impact the Earth in a global way.
Invest in Our Planet
The 2023 Earth Day theme is “Invest In Our Planet” inviting citizens of the Earth to dedicate themselves to being part of the solution to solving climate change and other environmental issues.2 This event is recognized all of April, but especially on April 22nd each year. One approach is to practice sustainable consumption; the balancing of health needs with environmental awareness.3
Sustainable consumption includes considering the food we consume to meet our health needs. In fact, it is estimated that one-third of the environmental impact from humans on climate and land use is related to the food we eat and how it is processed.4
"one-third of our impact on the Earth’s climate is related to our food chain"
What is a Foodprint?
The term foodprint relates to one’s ecological food footprint. Researchers have calculated the carbon emissions related to the growing, producing, transporting, and storing of the food we eat.2 The Earth Day slogan “Fight Climate Change with Diet Change” challenges us to reduce our Foodprint. Each person has unique connections to the food they eat – culture, finance, access, or health all impact our food selection. However, we can each strive to make intentional choices to shrink our foodprint to the best of our ability.
5 Strategies to Shrink your Foodprint2
- Choose plant-based foods more often such as whole grain products, legumes, vegetables, fruit, and plant-based proteins.
- Choose animal-based foods less often.
- Reduce processed food consumption.
- Reduce overall intake to meet basic nutritional needs especially non-basic foods such as sugary drinks, sweets, cakes, and snacks.
- Choose foods sourced locally more often.
It is interesting to point out that many of the strategies that shrink your foodprint align with Canada’s Food Guide – dietary guidelines. Health-focused and environmentally-conscious nutrition recommendations have many similarities.3
How to Engage Young Children in Shrinking our Foodprints
Check out Earth Day Network’s Foodprints for the Future Campaign for ideas on how to engage children on where our food comes from and the impacts our food system has on the environment and vulnerable communities.
- Talk with young children about composting - check out ‘Composting Ideas For Children’ for some activities you can do with children
- Check out our CHEERS Blog for 5 ideas on how to engage children what they can do with food scraps
- Read ‘Plants Feed Me’ by Lizzy Rockwell and talk about where food comes from
- Check out our CHEERS Blog for 6 tips to eat more sustainably
- Plant a vegetable garden to use for lessons and snacking!
- Implement Meatless Mondays.
- Ask to add more plant-based meal options to the menu.
- Share the Earth Day Climate Friendly Recipes with parents https://www.earthday.org/eatmoreplants/
Makovichuk L, Hewes J, Lirette P, Thomas N. Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework.; 2014. flightframework.ca
Foodprints for the Future - Earth Day. Accessed April 21, 2023. https://www.earthday.org/campaign/foodprints-for-future/
Bauerné Gáthy A, Kovácsné Soltész A, Szűcs I. Sustainable consumption – examining the environmental and health awareness of students at the University of Debrecen. Cogent Business & Management. 2022;9(1):2105572. doi:10.1080/23311975.2022.2105572
van Dooren C, Bosschaert T. Developing and disseminating a foodprint tool to raise awareness about healthy and environmentally conscious food choices. Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy. 2013;9(2):70-82. doi:10.1080/15487733.2013.11908116
About the Author
Lynne Lafave is a Professor in the Department of Health and Physical Education. She completed her undergraduate degree in Human Ecology with a major in food and nutrition and a minor in family systems. Lynne holds PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Manitoba. She is the mother of 3 daughters who have inspired her research interests in working with young children's health and wellness.