Thinking ‘LOAF’

LOAF stands for Locally produced, Organically grown, Animal friendly and Fairly traded.

The decisions we make about our food have far-reaching consequences, influencing the way food is produced and animals are treated. Using the LOAF principles is a way of questioning common practices such as the exploitation of soil and people, fishing methods which bulldoze the ocean floor, and industrial agriculture’s dependence on oil for transport, fertilizers and packaging. Here are some basic facts to bear in mind when shopping for home and for church events:

Locally Produced – helping community and neighbour
The food we eat accounts for 30% of the UK’s carbon footprint (2010 report by WWF-UK & the Food Climate Research Network). Mass-marketed food relies on packaging to keep produce fresh and incurs climate-damaging food miles to transport it from the grower to the supermarket via any number of distribution centres. Plus, products like palm oil involve massive losses of forests in other countries. These are good reasons for supporting our local shops and farmers’ market. Re-discover the seasonal fruit and veg grown locally.
www.farma.org.uk/members-map/ can help you find farmers markets offering genuinely local food.

Organically Grown – taking care of the earth
Organically grown food avoids the use of synthetic, oil-based fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Soils are improved by the incorporation of organic material (such as well-rotted manure and garden compost), benefitting micro-organisms and other wildlife. Organic farming uses less fossil fuel energy, avoids the build-up of nitrates from fertilisers and builds up carbon in the soil, removing it from the atmosphere. Even if we don’t go 100% organic at least we can some of these alternatives.

Animal friendly – avoiding abuse
Our fellow creatures are sensory beings and suffer pain when ill-treated. We have a moral responsibility to care for their welfare. Look for food labelled free range or outdoor reared as indicators of animals reared in accordance with strict welfare regulations, don’t trust pretty labels with ‘farm fresh’ or ‘country fresh’.
When buying fish choose those with Marine Stewardship Council certification meaning the fisheries are not currently overfished: www.msc.org/cook-eat-enjoy/fish-to-eat & www.goodfishguide.org/
18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide are due to livestock farming (Food & Agriculture Organisation of the UN Rome, 2006). To lower carbon, and especially methane emissions, we need to eat less meat and dairy products than the average UK diet. We may not choose to be vegans or vegetarians but we can decide to eat less meat, particularly beef.

Fairly traded – creating social justice
Produce grown overseas, such as bananas, citrus, cocoa, olives, sugar, tea and coffee, can be bought with a fair trade symbol. This means that workers who produce them get a fair wage and regulated working conditions. We can choose to buy Fairtrade goods from the monthly Traidcraft stall at church or the Ethos & Oxfam shops in Maidstone.
For further information see www.christian-ecology.org.uk/use-your-loaf.pdf

 


Adapted with permission from an article by Linda Cross of the Wye Eco-congregation working group.

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