Tackling Global Climate Change One Healthy and Sustainable Meal at a Time

April 20, 2016
Earth Day with Tree and Earth (Brandon Schafer)
As most of you know this Friday is Earth Day! And to celebrate this special day the Dining Commons will be offering a Climate Friendly Menu and have various sutainable vendors and student groups tabling. I also thought it would be nice to celebrate by having Environmental Studies Intern Madison Conrado write a post about Climate Change and a Climate Friendly Menu. Enjoy.
Global Climate Change is one of the most complex issues facing us today. It poses numerous threats to humans and the environment and has already begun to have observable effects. Predictions that scientists made in the past are now occurring: glaciers have shrunk, sea levels are rising at accelerating rates, animal ranges are shifting, and heat waves are increasing in frequency and intensity. The biggest contributing factor to Global Climate Change is the increasingly rising levels of harmful greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere every day. To tackle this phenomenon, it is necessary to reduce the emissions of and eventually stabilize the levels of these heat-trapping gases. If measures are not taken to mitigate climate change, the problem will continue to be exacerbated; we will have to pay the price in the form of more and more environmental issues that threaten lives and ultimately our planet. 
While climate change is a global issue, it is mostly felt on a local scale, and therefore, an essential part of the mitigation process is for localities to implement techniques for reducing emissions. Many people may not think their small, local, or even individual efforts make an impact but I am here to assure you that they do. When one person takes a stand, it may affect another person to do the same, and then another person down the line, and so on. You can inspire real change and collective effort that will make a difference even if it is done in small steps. One of the ways that individuals can make a positive impact on Global Climate Change is by looking to their diet. Sounds crazy right? How could changing your diet reduce the effects of climate change? Well, like I said before, seemingly small acts can go a long way. 
Agriculture and food production are responsible for ¼ of the world’s current emissions. Certain areas of agriculture account for more emissions than others and therefore pose higher threats to the environment. The culprits: meat, dairy, and poultry. Fossil fuel use can be from 2.5- to as much as 50-times higher to produce meat protein than vegetable-based proteins. Meat consumption leads to more greenhouse gas emissions annually than the use of cars. To make a difference in our local community, UCSB Residential Dining has brought it upon themselves to implement a climate-friendly menu that utilizes foods with low environmental impact. The climate-friendly menu follows five core principles, which include:
1. Buy Locally Grown Foods
2. Eat Organic Foods
3. Reduce Meat and Diary Consumption
4. Avoid Processed Foods
5. Say No to Packaging
In order to maintain their low carbon footprint, UCSB also purchases food items that are within the season and have even created a seasonal food calendar for all of the dining commons and chefs to utilize throughout the year. Additionally, residential dining incorporates meat options such as chicken and fish that produce fewer emissions and includes more vegetarian and vegan entrees and sides within their climate-friendly menu. Residential Dining emphasizes these types of foods when developing their climate-friendly menu and work hard to stay within the strict guidelines. Climate change is a problem that is affecting people and the environment all over the world and by creating and implementing this kind of menu, Residential and Dining Services is once again taking strides to protect, preserve and regenerate our environment. 

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