By SHANNA NAGHANOTISAssociated PressWASHINGTON (AP) In a world of over-consuming, unhealthy and often wasteful products, how do we live longer, healthier and more environmentally-friendly?
By buying less meat and seafood.
That’s the conclusion of a study released this week by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the findings could have significant implications for the nation’s food supply.
The study found that the average American eats about 2.5 pounds of meat a year, the equivalent of about one hamburger, and an average of 10.5 ounces of seafood a year.
The average American drinks a gallon of milk, drinks about one gallon of juice a day, and consumes about 4 pounds of sugar a day.
In addition, the average person consumes an average 500 grams of sugars a day through the day, while the average consumer consumes about 15 grams a day of fats.
The researchers estimate that we could save an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of food annually if we reduced our consumption of meat, seafood and sugar.
That would put us on track to avert a 2-degree world.
The report recommends that Americans eat more vegetables and fruit, cut down on their sodium consumption, and consume less meat, sugar and other foods.
The USDA has also released a report estimating that a 1-degree increase in global temperature could lead to nearly a half million deaths.
It is too soon to say what will happen if global temperatures rise above 1 degree Celsius, said Susan L. Kuchner, the National Institutes of Health’s director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
The National Academy of Sciences recently said it was optimistic about the prospects of a 1.8-degree global temperature increase, and Kuchnner said the latest research indicates a 1 degree change in temperature is not out of the question.
The current average global temperature is around 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (1.3 degrees Celsius), she said.
But that’s still a lot higher than it was at the end of the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago.
Kukner said that changes in temperature and sea level are projected to be even more dramatic in the future, and we can expect more extreme weather.
“The combination of increasing greenhouse gases and melting glaciers and ice sheets will lead to more frequent, intense, and prolonged heat waves, especially in the western United States,” she said in a statement.
“This may result in the death of tens of millions of people, or more, as a result of extreme heat.”
Kuchner said we can’t be sure what the future holds.
“There is still uncertainty about what is the extent of what is going to happen,” she added.
But the study indicates that even with a 1 cent-per-ounce reduction in meat consumption, the food industry could save billions of dollars.
It estimated that reducing meat consumption by about 30 percent could reduce the costs of producing about 2,000 metric tons of food per year, enough to feed about 12.5 million people.
It could also save about $7 billion a year in the food sector alone.
But as for fish and seafood, the study estimates that a 2 percent decrease in consumption would save about 4 billion tons of fish and about 2 billion pounds in the seafood industry, or about $1.2 billion a day in food-related costs.
The report also found that a 50 percent reduction in seafood consumption could save about 13 billion tons in food costs and about $8.5 in food prices.
The scientists estimated that a reduction in carbon emissions could cut food prices by about $4.3 per person per year.
But it’s too early to know if a 2 degree temperature increase would lead to a reduction of carbon emissions in the United States.
“We don’t know how many years of data we would need to see if there were an increase in carbon dioxide emissions or if there would be a reduction,” said Richard R. Holbrooke, director of food and agriculture policy studies at the National Association of Manufacturers.