When considering your environmental footprint, you might picture the plastic in your bin, or the number of lights on in your home. But what’s often overlooked is the harm from our own dinner plate.
Feeding the world’s 7.6 billion people, with our current diets and methods of producing food, already puts a huge strain on the planet. It is destroying habitat, polluting and draining waterways and contributing to global warming, according to a University of Oxford study. The global food system is responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. Animal products are the worst for this, contributing to more than half of the different emissions from food, despite supplying only 37% of our protein and 18% of our calories.
By 2050, the UN estimates the number of mouths to feed worldwide will grow to more than nine billion, placing even more pressure on the environment if changes aren’t made to food production and diets. So how do we feed everyone, sustainably?
In episode 12 of The Few Who Do, Jan Fran and Marc Fennell tackle the problem with two people rethinking the way we do food. Matt traded Michelin-star dining in the bustle of Sydney to the rolling hills of Tasmania, where he’s a proponent of small farming. And Skye is advocating for eating something many in the West would find repulsive.
Skye Blackburn is an entomologist (someone who studies insects), food scientist and owner of the Edible Bug Shop. While many see a pest when they look at insects, Skye sees promise. “I've always had an interest in bugs ever since I was a little kid,” Skye tells The Few Who Do. “I had lots and lots of bug catchers and normally what I would do is keep the bugs for a few days and then let them go,” she says.
In episode 12, you’ll hear how Skype turned her passion into a paycheck, educating children at schools about insects with the help of her recently deceased pet, which had eight legs and was called Fluffy. “[The spider] helped to educate me about spiders and tarantulas specifically. So I want to kind of continue educating everybody about tarantulas using her,” says Skye.
But Skype took her passion beyond the classroom, whetting people’s appetite for insects — quite literally — by making bug candy. “I sent away some crickets for nutritional testing and when I got the results back I was actually really really shocked that no one was using insects as a source of food in Australia,” she says.
20 percent of the world already eats insects, in places like Mexico and Thailand spiced and sweetened insects are a popular snack or a common addition to meals. And to Skye’s delight, they took off down under too. Today, her business is putting insects in everything from yoghurt to protein powders, and is expanding into restaurants. But how can such tiny creatures help solve a huge issue like food resourcing? Well, as you’ll learn in the podcast, nutrition isn’t the only thing going for the critters.
But Skye admits that insects aren’t going to be enough to cover breakfast, lunch and dinner. Traditional forms of livestock and agriculture are still needed to feed our growing population, but there’s a strong push for change to harmful production practices. That’s where Matt Evans comes in.
Between 2000 and 2005, Matt was what many foodies dream of: a food critic (for the Sydney Morning Herald). “I wanted to eat lots. So I became a food critic by simply eating out a lot,” Matt tells The Few Who Do in episode 12. “I probably spent more of my own money than other people spent on me eating out. But I loved it,” he says.
Then Matt had a midlife crisis and left the big smoke to start Fat Pig Farm, nestled in a valley in Tasmania’s apple region. “Everyone in Tassie knows someone with a farm, or has their own farm,” Matt says. “I came here because the people here had all that knowledge. There's probably more knowledge in the local nursing home than there is in the whole state library in terms of how to grow and rear food for the table,” he says.
In episode 12 of The Few Who Do, Matt takes us on a tour of his farm, nestled in the Huon Valley, introducing you to his three pigs and detailing why he’s investing in slow farming. Slow farming prizes soil, value is placed on perennial crops that can be harvested again and again, think fruit trees, tomatoes, broccoli and berries. It minimises the distance between where food is grown and eaten and has a sustainability focus; the pigs on Matt’s farm provide manure for the orchards and can be fed food waste from his kitchen.
In the podcast, Matt highlights the benefits of small farms and challenges the assumption that large-scale agriculture is needed to feed the world’s growing population.
To find out more, listen to episode 12 ofThe Few Who Do, co-hosted by Marc Fennell and Jan Fran.
LISTEN TO EPISODE 12
Introducing 'The Few Who Do'
Two hosts, one problem, two possibilities...
Presented by Jan Fran and Marc Fennell 'The Few Who Do' tackles the big questions in society and culture today.
Whose responsibility is it to make our streets safe for women? How will we support a growing population with dwindling food resources?
We’ll hear personal stories from Australians with big ambitions, entrepreneurs and small business owners advocating for change.
The Few Who Do is an SBS podcast with CGU Insurance.
Dropping into your feed March 1
Upcoming episodes of The Few Who Do will examine
One in five Australians have been the victim of image based abuse and cyber bullying, can we build another online world that’s safe and welcoming?
Two Hosts, One Problem, Two Possibilities
This podcast is brought to you by CGU Insurance, who have been proudly backing the ambitions of Aussie Small Businesses for over 165 years. Visit CGU.com.au to find out how CGU can back you.