The ecological footprint (EF) gives an estimate of the the total impact of our activities on the environment. It is a measure of environmental impacts, displayed in terms of land area. The 'Food Footprint' allocates the portion of the total ecological footprint that can be put down to food production. EcoFootprint Methodologies
Material Flow Analysis helped determine the Food Footprint in North West Footprint for Food (pdf). The ecological footprint (EF) of the North West region totals 43 million global hectares (gha). This equates to 6.2 gha per resident (average for UK). If the world’s total population was to live at the level of affluence of the UK, i.e. at about 6.2 gha/cap, we would need 3- 4 planets to sustain our lifestyle.
The highest single footprint component of the EF is food consumption in households - with 1.4 gha/cap. Together with catering consumption (0.17 gha) and packaging (0.07 gha), the Food Footprint corresponds to over a quarter of the total EF from all activities.
In terms of the breakdown of food types, animal product consumption accounted for two thirds (67%) of the total EF from food and drink. Vegetable products account for 23% and drinks and packaging are responsible for 5% each. As part of the total Food Footprint, the 'energy footprint' is of a very similar size to the 'land footprint', with values of 0.72 and 0.71 gha/cap respectively.
If we multiply the individual Food Footprint for a UK citizen (1.6 gha) by number of people - 60 million, this gives total food UK footprint in terms of land of nearly 100,000,000 hectares. As we have only about 18,700,000 hectares of land for agriculture, and 2.8mh of forest, that means we need nearly 5X more than the total agricultural & forest land in UK to produce our own food.
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