The ecological footprint (EF) gives an estimate of the the total impact of our activities on the environment. It is a measure of environmental impacts, displayed in terms of land area. The 'Food Footprint' allocates the portion of the total ecological footprint that can be put down to food production. EcoFootprint Methodologies
Material Flow Analysis helped determine the Food Footprint in North West Footprint for Food (pdf). (this link broken - we are chasing) The ecological footprint (EF) of the North West region totals 43 million global hectares (gha). This equates to 6.2 gha per resident (average for UK). If the world’s total population was to live at the level of affluence of the UK, i.e. at about 6.2 gha/cap, we would need 3- 4 planets to sustain our lifestyle.
The Footprint for food can be used to show that by eating a healthier diet we also impact much less on the environment...in other words food that is healthier for us is also healthier for the planet. According to the 'Ecological Footprint of what we eat', by eating a 'healthy diet', we reduce our burden on the environment by 22%, another 11% if it is local, a further 2% if it is organic, and another 5% if completely vegetarian (rather than 'less meat' in a healthy diet). See Fig 8.
The highest single footprint component of the EF is food consumption in households - with 1.4 gha/cap. Together with catering consumption (0.17 gha) and packaging (0.07 gha), the Food Footprint corresponds to over a quarter of the total EF from all activities.
If we multiply the individual Food Footprint for a UK citizen (1.6 gha) by number of people - 60 million, this gives total food UK footprint in terms of land of nearly 100,000,000 hectares. As we have only about 18,700,000 hectares of land for agriculture, and 2.8mh of forest, that means we need nearly 5X more than the total agricultural & forest land in UK to produce our own food.
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