AN AMERICAN study suggests that a healthier diet and a return to traditional farming could help reduce energy consumption by up to 50%.
Modern agriculture is not a cheap way of producing food, apparently. Researchers say that a shift towards more traditional, organic farming methods would help because conventional meat and dairy production is extremely energy intensive.
Similarly, in crop production, reduced pesticide use, increased use of manure, cover crops and crop rotations improve energy efficiency.
Finally, changes to methods of food processing, packaging and distribution could also help to reduce fuel consumption.
An estimated 19% of total energy used in the US is taken up in the production and supply of food. The proportion will be much the same here in Britain, and possibly even higher as we work our land very hard.
Currently, this mostly comes from non-renewable energy sources, which basically means oil, so it is very important to cut the level of dependence on this increasingly expensive resource.
The researchers at Cornell University have another simple message for us: get smarter about food – for a start, eat less and slash the calories by reducing, even eliminating, high-fat junk food.
It happens that junk and processed foods, in particular, gobble more energy than that used to produce staple foods such as potatoes, rice, fruits and vegetables.
Simply by reducing junk food intake and converting to diets lower in meat, the average Brit could have a massive impact on fuel consumption as well as improving his or her health.