Prioritising biodiversity-friendly foods to stop biodiversity loss

22 March 2024

Biodiversity loss, driven by human activities, threatens ecosystems essential for our air and food, and is a critical concern for food security.

This leads us to wonder which foods promote biodiversity and which ones we should refrain from consuming.

FoodNavigator refers to a new study that has examined the impact on biodiversity of various popular dishes around the world. The research aimed to distinguish between ingredients that harm biodiversity and those that are biodiversity-friendly. It was found that the biodiversity impact of meat-containing dishes was notably higher compared to vegetarian options. However, consuming meat can be sustainable if the cattle are grass-fed and graze in pastures.

Surprisingly, rice and legumes have been identified as having a significant negative impact on biodiversity. This is mostly due to the high agricultural pressure upon areas rich in biodiversity in the countries where they originate.

Starchy foods like potatoes are known for their low carbon footprint, as they require less land and water compared to other vegetables such as cucumbers, spinach, cabbage, or carrots. These have shallow roots, which can lead to the soil drying out quickly if not frequently watered.

Wheat also tends to have a smaller impact on biodiversity. However, wheat farming often depends on the use of pesticides, posing a significant risk to biodiversity.

As a consumer, it is important to increase our understanding of the origins of our food and, whenever feasible, opt for options that are friendly to biodiversity and sustainable.