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Every Earth Day, on the 22nd of April, millions of people across the globe come together to demand justice for our planet. It’s a day to not only celebrate the achievements of the environmental movement, but also to raise awareness about the work that is still to be done to safeguard our planet and protect future generations. But how did Earth Day even begin? What does it have to do with food? And why now, in 2024, is it more important than ever to honour it? Let’s dive in! 


History of Earth Day

The first ever Earth Day was started by a US Senator in 1970, who had the idea of creating a national ‘teach-in’ on the environment. With the initial target demographic being college students, April 22nd was strategically selected because it sat between Spring Break and exam season. In the end, 20 million Americans from all walks of life took to the streets to demonstrate, which accounted for a whopping 10% of the country’s population at the time. This striking turnout had enormous implications for US policy and environmental law, and its legacy is still felt today. Over five decades later, Earth Day has only continued to grow in popularity, becoming an international phenomenon with over one billion people now marking the holiday.


What Does Earth Day Have to Do with Food? 

As we go about our busy lives, we might not consider how the food in our fridge (and our trash can) directly feeds the climate crisis. But the links between food systems and the health of our planet are overwhelmingly clear. Here are a few stats to help you connect the dots:


  • According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), animal agriculture accounts for roughly 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions;
  • An estimated ⅓ of the food we produce is lost or wasted globally. That’s roughly 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year, which accounts for 8–10% of total human-made greenhouse gas emissions (FAO);
  • If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the US (UNEP).

Food affects our planet every step of the way, from how we grow, process, transport and distribute it, through to how we prepare, consume and dispose of it. While these statistics are more than a little scary, it's important not to feel immobilized by them. Change can be made, and when it comes to food, there are so many opportunities for us as consumers to take action. 


How to Take Action This Earth Day: 100km Foods Edition


  • Buy Local and Eat Seasonally: Eating with the seasons and supporting local farmers and producers can help shorten the food supply chain and reduce your food miles. Beyond that, choosing to buy from small, thoughtful producers is a great way to show your support for a different kind of food system, one that prioritizes transparency and community (not to mention the food tastes a whole lot better when you know it was grown a stone’s throw away).     
  • Celebrate Produce: As we inch towards the warmer weather and longer days, spring and summer’s bounty is just around the corner! With so much wonderful produce to choose from, why not have your vegetables take the centre of your plate more often? If you commit to one entirely plant-based day each week for an entire year you could save 789.25 bathtubs of water! 
  • Ditch the Food Waste: There are SO many ways to cut down on food waste in your home. For one, lowering the temperature of your fridge to about 5°C can help extend the life of certain goods. Another idea? If possible, aim for smaller, more frequent grocery shops, rather than big bulk buys. There’s evidence to support that when buying in bulk, we actually end up throwing out more food and therefore lose money. Buying what you’re realistically going to eat in the short-term helps you reduce food waste in the long run.
  • Clean out those Cupboards: At the end of each week, pull out every item in your fridge and lay it out on the counter. Challenge yourself to make a meal with what you have instead of going out to pick up more groceries. You know how they say the most sustainable clothes are the ones already in your closet? The same is true for food! So clear out that fridge, reach into the back of those cupboards and whip up a delicious masterpiece. 
  • Support Regenerative Farms: Regenerative agriculture is an approach to farming that nourishes and restores soils and ecosystems. Producers like VG Meats and The Packing House Inc. - who farm regeneratively - are in fact a part of solving the emissions-related issues of animal agriculture. So, when buying protein, choose responsibly (and regeneratively)! 
  • Take Action in Your Community: Join an organization or local climate action group. Email your locally-elected official about a related issue, like introducing compost pick-up services if they aren’t already available. There are plenty of ways to get involved and it’s always more fun to do it with others (and a great way to make friends). If you’re looking for something you can do right away, sign this petition to save 700 acres of farmland in Waterloo from being appropriated. 


As we approach the halfway mark in this decisive decade for climate action, it’s up to all of us to make changes and fight for a better future, and Earth Day is the perfect time to start! With an estimated billion people planning to celebrate this year, we think it’s safe to say you’ll be in very good company.

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