The transition to a low-carbon society depends heavily on the choices that each of us makes as consumers on a daily basis. How can we re-orient them in order to achieve a lower climate impact?
This challenge concerns everything that has to do with aspects of "consumption" within the agri-food system.
Each time we buy food or pick something from a menu, we should ask ourselves where the goods come from, how it was produced, how many kilometres it has travelled, whether it is in season, etc. The golden rules for sustainable, climate-friendly food are: organic, local, seasonal products. In addition, it is advisable to reduce the consumption of meat (especially red meat), fish (preferring blue fish), and dairy products (cheese, milk and dairy products).
Meat consumption (especially red meat, and meat produced on intensive farms) has a high climate footprint. And eating too much of it can also lead to health problems. The consumption of red meat, which often is imported from distant countries, emits up to 22 times more greenhouse gases than those needed to produce legumes [Source: WWF www.wwf.ch/it/i-nostri-obiettivi/carne-e-latticini].
Producing 1 kg of red meat means 15.4 kg of CO2 emissions; producing 1 kg of lentils means 0.7 kg of CO2 emissions. Dairy products also require significant amounts of CO2 emissions. How many kilograms of CO2 are we responsible for each year because of our food choices?
The production process can then be more or less energy-intensive and can therefore be associated with more or less greenhouse gas emissions. Even the transport and storage of food often involve high CO2 emissions: how can we encourage the consumption of organic, seasonal, zero-kilometre agricultural products, i.e. more sustainable overall?
How can consumers' choices be refocused, considering that these products usually cost more than those of the agro-food industry based on intensive production, often with limited attention to workers' conditions and animal welfare?
How can consumers be involved to increase their awareness of the climatic, environmental and social impacts of their food choices?
How can we balance a correct diet from both a nutritional and climate impact perspective?
How can we encourage lifestyles with less consumption of meat, fish and dairy products, and/or with a focus on the consumption of products of organic, seasonal or zero-km origin? One strategy could be, for example, the creation of brands (e.g., Bio Suisse or Ticino regio.garantie): brands are a guide and guarantee for the consumer that make it clear who and where the goods were produced and with which raw materials.
So, how can we overcome the price barrier, which is usually higher for these products than in the mass-produced and intensively produced agri-food industry or from abroad?
And how can we encourage, on a larger scale, these lifestyles, to bring them out of the current niches of consumption and make them socially dominant, transforming them into the collective "new normality"?