So, Helene posted a question and while inherently I knew the answer it set me digging. The question is why is eating at home better for the environment?
Off the top of my head I could think of half a dozen reasons why I want to eat home meals more often.
Some are budgetary, some are based on ecological concerns.
Eating out for lunch every day costs my husband around 150 a month. Small beans for some-big beans (beans being the euphemism for $) for others. Eating out 2 days a week for lunch would save about $100. This assumes you are only spending between 7-8 per meal, it is very hard to find a lunch in downtown Singapore for less than $7.
Second, the types of food available inexpensively for lunch are at best semi-nutritious and at worst filled with trans-fats, sugars, un-heatlhy carbs and other goodies that the McD's of the world fill our stomachs with. Eating food prepared at home can be more nutritious by simply using fresh ingredients.
Third, the Chain type lunch restaurant has never been very good in terms of environmental practices. They buy the produce at the lowest cost-not the best produce. This often means using poor land by poor farmers using soil depleating farming methods that will burn through the soil in less than 5 years, or buying from the huge multi-corporate farm that is backed by the petrochemical fertilizer industry.
Chain type restaurants ship product around the world at enormous costs in terms of fuel consumption and environmental impact. Potatoes for example are shipped from Washington State to Singapore(and apologizes in advance to my friend who works for the Washington Potato Commission) it is not ALWAYs, and I say this from my Ag Econ degree earned 20+ years ago, healthier or more cost efficient to ship products around the world. Adam Smith was part right but not entirely.
Next, if you have eaten in a local hawker center you can see the amount of waste generated by eating out. People use napkins and leave them on the ground. People use plastic bags and at best toss them into a trashcan to be taken out to landfills in our oceans.
Eating out tends to promote eating higher on the food chain. Now I am an avowed omnivore. I love my meat, but I admit way too much meat is consumed and it is not always the healthiest types. While I don't always agree that the consumption of grains will automatically reduce our footprint (depending on the grains we consume and where we get them from...) it is true that a diet filled with more meat will tax the environment more than one filled with vegetables.
Eating at home also gives us the ability to eat organic. I can only count on one hand the number of organic restaurants in Singapore, and the few that exist are expensive.
So, those are my quick answers. Now- as a former aggie and an economist at that, I have always been fascinated in the production of food. I scream at my computer screen when I read people who write that selective breeding of crops and animals is the same as genetic engineering. NOT TRUE... but I digress.
I started a quick search on line today for resources and books that talk about the environment, politics and the food choices we make. Here are a few links. I am going to go down to the library and am going to re-read a few of these and reserve a few I have not yet read.
Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation
John Robbin's Diet for a New America- A classic must read. While it turns many over to vegetarianism- I still eat meat, it still is a very important read.
The Omnivore's Dilemma
Diet for a small planet- Another classic book.
Plus here are a few links about diet and our food choices.
Politics on our plate
A book review of the Ethics of what we Eat by Peter Singer
An interview with Michael Pollan, author of the omnivore's dilemma
Oh and PS to those Compactors reading the links to Amazon are for your reference only I am not advocating purchase of these books ;-)
Don't you love questions that get you spinning and make you want to learn more? I do!