In our programs we teach youth the difference between regular diet and a low carbon diet. A low carbon diet (not to be confused with low carb diet!) refers to a diet that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because food must be produced, packaged, transported, and disposed of when consumed and not consumed, all these steps to providing food contributes to greenhouse gas emissions in our world. Most often, the food system contributes a significant percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. So if every individual makes a conscious choice of following a low carbon diet, it makes a huge difference.
That’s why in our program, we teach youth how they can make greener lifestyle choices that do not compromise consumption of their favorite foods. To do this, we normally take an example of something they normally consume and together, compare it to an alternative that would create less carbon emissions. As an example we teach them how to choose locally sourced foods – like apples – since the further the food is to home, the more gas it takes to transport it, thus creating lots of carbon emissions. We also teach them how they can make food from their own homes instead of always going to the market to purchase them. We teach them Bread Machine Pros lesson on how to use a bread machine to make low carbon bread. And Margaret, who volunteers with us and has been gardening for over 30 years, teaches them how to grow simple foods in their own backyards. She has good knowledge about types of farming practices that produce lots of greenhouse gases and ones that do not to share with the youth.
Besides practical hands-on examples, EENG teaches what a high-meat-eating diet looks like in terms of carbon emissions versus what a vegan diet looks like. We also teach them the nutritional aspect of the foods they choose to eat, so they can decide how to replace certain high-carbon foods with low-carbon ones without compromising on nutrition. So they won’t have to Our goal is to let them know what they alternatives are, so they can make their own decisions in the future.
Earlier, we shared with you a lesson that we do on energy-saving appliances, which is closely tied to this lesson. For instance for low carbon cooking, which cooking appliance and cooking method you choose will obviously result in higher or lower energy use and thus greenhouse gas. So we usually advocate for selecting cooking methods and appliances with low energy use. A great example is how we teach youth which is the best bread machine of 2014 for low carbon bread making. We illustrate some specific things to look out for when buying these. Nowadays, there is a green certification for energy-saving appliances so we teach them how to read and use these certifications.
Some youth wonder, because of the difficulty, how you would accurately judge which product to choose over another at the supermarket since you don’t see how it’s produced or see how far it’s been transported. It’s a good question. Since those things are hard to predict and control, we teach youth about what they can do to control their carbon emissions. We can’t eliminate all emissions, but we tell them that they could minimize trips to the supermarket or walk and bike instead of drive. All these little things add up. Besides, we’ve taught them about what they can make on their own or what volume to buy to minimize food waste. In addition they learn about what they can do with the food waste to minimize greenhouse gases. These are all important things that youth can do.