How pigs can help us face up to Climate Change

10th Dec 15 by fb_admin

pigs tristramA new study published by Cambridge University reports that “feeding our food waste, or swill, to pigs (currently banned under EU law) could save 1.8 million hectares of global agricultural land – an area roughly half the size of Germany, including hundreds of thousands of acres of South America’s biodiverse forests and savannahs – and provide a use for the 100 million tonnes of food wasted in the EU each year.”

There’s a whole lot of things we need to face if we’re going to stop ourselves from major environmental disaster. One of those things is the food waste scandal, it’s outrageous, immoral and catastrophic for the changing climate. Feedback can be proud of its part in creating the public outcry on food waste; everyone is talking about it.

But there is something else we are still sticking our heads in the sand about: meat. Without a reduction in global meat consumption, it will be almost impossible to keep global warming below the ‘danger level’ of two degrees Celsius. Chatham House puts it this way in their recent study: “a shift to healthier patterns of meat-eating could bring a quarter of the emissions reductions we need to keep on track for a two-degree world.”

While reversing the global appetite for meat is crucial, there is something a little easier that can be done at the same time, and Feedback has been leading the way here too: it’s the Pig Idea. Simply put, the Pig Idea challenges the fact that our current food systems prioritises the feeding of animals over that of people by feeding virgin crops such as soy, maize and wheat to livestock. The inefficacy of this system is crazy: 36% of the world crops harvested are used as animal feed, but animal based food only delivers 12% of the calories of the world’s population.

Pigs are the ultimate food recycling machine and have eaten humankind’s food waste for thousands of years. Indeed, during both world wars it was illegal to feed pigs any food that was deemed fit for human consumption. Yet now the reverse is true. The current EU ban on feeding catering waste to pigs is a major legislative block to making our food system truly sustainable.

As the new study from Cambridge University identifies, feeding pigs kitchen left-overs can not only prevent vast amounts of food being lost from the supply chain (the average restaurant wastes 21.5 tonnes of food per year – sustainable restaurant association), but it can also dramatically offset the impacts conventional livestock feed is having on our planet and global food prices.

While we need to reduce the amount of meat we eat, it makes environmental and economic sense for pigs to eat more of it, at least in the form of our left-overs. And you don’t need to take Feedback’s word for it: the Cambridge University study “Where there is swill, there’s a way” (zu Ermgassen, 2015) shows without doubt how important the Pig Idea is for tackling climate change. Changing the EU legislation on animal feed for non-ruminants (like pigs and chickens) is a safe and cost-effective way to help address climate change.


What can you do next?

Follow us on Instagram to see our work in action.

Follow us