24 Jul 2019

U.S. Flunks Global Overshoot Day Test

Parma, ITALY, July 25, 2019: The United States ranked last in preserving the world’s resources, according to a Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition and the Economist Intelligence Unit Food Sustainability study analyzed for Global Overshoot Day.

Global Overshoot Day measures the amount of time that we consume more resources than the Earth is able to regenerate. This year’s Overshoot Day falls on July 29, three days before last year. In less than five decades, Overshoot Day has moved forward from December 29th.

Food production and consumption account for 26 percent of the globe’s ecological footprint. Yet mankind wastes a third of all food. Italians throw away 65 kilograms a year, according to the Barilla-Economist study. Americans waste a record 95 kilograms each year.   A total of 1.3 billion tons of food, ends up uneaten or thrown away. 

The impact on climate change is enormous. When we think about our planet’s rising temperature, most of us concentrate on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, trucks, and other fossil fuel-powered machines. These emissions are worth our attention, yet another culprit receives far less than it deserves: the way we produce, transform and consume food. Agriculture puts excessive pressures on the land, water and climate system – accounting for almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions. 

If everyone lived like Americans, the Barilla and the Economist Intelligence Unit report estimates that we would need as many as five planets. In addition to holding the record in food waste, Americans produce the highest per capita greenhouse gases from fossil fuels. 

“There is a lot of talk about sustainability on a global level, although unfortunately the concept is not always associated with nutrition,” says Marta Antonelli, Head of the Research Program of the Barilla Foundation.  “We could all do something to improve the situation given that the food system contributes more than 30% to our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Some countries are making progress. In Milan, the city aims to cut food waste by 50% by 2030. France, one of the world’s sustainable countries uses only 68% of the land that could be used in agriculture and makes a virtuous use of water. Even in the U.S. is home to innovative projects to recycle water used in agriculture. 

If we moved the date of Overshoot Day forward by five days each year, humanity would return to being in harmony with the planet by 2050. This requires adopting a new diet, halving the consumption of meat and substituting vegetables

"In this challenge for change, our food choices have weight,” says Antonelli of the Barilla Foundation. “If we cut the amount of meat by half and moved to a vegetable-based diet, we would move Overshoot day forward by 15 days. If each person reduced wasted food by 50% around the globe, the Overshoot date would move forward by a further 11 days.”

The Barilla Foundation has developed the Double Food and Environmental Pyramid. It a places the classic food pyramid favoring fresh vegetables and fruit alongside an "environmental" pyramid classifying food according to their ecological footprint. Foods recommended by nutritionists for our health are the best for that of the Earth. It recommends: 

Increasing the consumption of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, especially whole grains, nuts and legumes

Consuming moderate amounts of animal protein

Avoiding waste.

For additional information, www.barillabcfn.com or contact Bill Echikson, E+Europe; email: bechikson@gmail.com; Tel: +32475669736.