Partnership launched in Leeds to encourage sustainable food choices

A new partnership has launched in Leeds to tackle the city’s environmental impact, specifically focused on sustainable food choices.

The collaboration between Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds and FoodWise Leeds will encourage residents to make more informed food choices, support sustainable food production and reduce food waste.

The University of Leeds has revealed that around 10% of the UK’s carbon emissions is linked to food production, transportation and waste.

This has led researchers at the Consumer Data Research Centre to invent a calculator giving food venues and caterers a better understanding of the environmental impact of the meals they provide.

Alexandra Dalton, a former data scientist at Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) and the Consumer Data Research Centre, said: ‘When we buy food, we don’t often think about where it has come from, or the environmental impact of the food supply chain.

‘Small changes to our diets, such as eating more fruit, vegetables, and plant-based products make a difference. However, we should also try and consider where certain foods come from, how processed they are, or whether it is in season.’

Users of the calculator can see estimations of the carbon footprint, land use and water use associated with ingredients and the tool is already being trialled.

Researchers at the University of Leeds are using food data they have collected to engage with local primary schools through science lessons, workshops and an interactive educational game ‘Planet Plates’.

The technology is already being trialled by the council’s school meals provider Catering Leeds to review menus and suppliers, helping the council to reach climate targets, such as to halve the carbon footprint of the average meal served by the council by 2030.

It’s also being used by FoodWise Leeds, the citywide partnership between third sector, academia, businesses and the council, to show the carbon calculations of recipes on its Recipe Hub.

The partnership is planning to publish its Leeds Food Strategy in draft form soon, with being opened for consultation later this month.

Cllr Helen Hayden, Executive Member for Infrastructure and Climate at Leeds City Council, said: ‘The food we eat is responsible for a significant proportion of our carbon footprint, so we believe it is important to lead by example to reduce the impact of the food we serve, whilst empowering others to do the same.

‘This new collaboration with the University of Leeds and Food Wise is a brilliant example of how working together can help us realise our ambitions for a healthier and greener city.

‘Going forward, we’ll continue to educate and equip organisations and residents with the tools and knowledge they need to make informed food choices, to make it easier for the city to come together to help Leeds tackle climate change through food.’

Photo provided by Leeds City Council


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