Robynne Anderson's Emerging Thoughts on Ag

COP21: It’s Time to Eat for the Planet

With the world’s leaders gathering in Paris to discuss how collective efforts can ensure that global warming does not rise above two degrees, farmers face the double challenge of how to feed a booming global population set to reach 9bn, while delivering a more sustainable agricultural system.

Though it may not always be prominent in the COP21 discussions, the critical role played by agriculture in many economies — in terms of food security, economic opportunity and poverty reduction — means agriculture is a key component of many national strategies for adaptation and mitigation.

The importance of COP21 to sustainable agriculture will be huge. Not least, because in developing countries, it will be small-scale farmers and farming families, who will be on the frontline battling rising temperatures, frequent droughts and food supply shortages across the globe triggered by climate change.

Faced with the complexities of climate change, science and politics, it is all too easy to turn away and carry on regardless — especially, if you are lucky enough to live in the richer, developed world.

So, how can each of us tackle climate change?

My suggestion is review your diet. It’s time to eat for the planet. What we eat sends a signal to the supply chain and helps create a more sustainable and healthier future for the world’s people and the planet.

One food source which bridges being both healthy for people and the planet arepulses. These are likely to come to the fore with Government, policy makers and consumers next year.

The UN has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP) because ‘Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions and cancer’.

The UN also notes pulses, such as chickpeas, peas, beans and lentils, have nitrogen-fixing properties which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment’.

Pulses have a number of other environmental positives: they use less water than other protein sources, less fertilizer and have a low carbon footprint. New more resilient strains of pulse seed, like the white gold bean, which has been so successful in Ethiopia, have been developed to help farmers fight the impact of climate change.

Strategically, they are important to food security and nutrition agenda. Professor Mywish Maredia of Michigan State University has argued that pulses are “uniquely positioned” as a commodity group to tackle the many competing challenges facing the developing world, including adequate nutrition and health and also addressing environmental resource constraints and access issues.

In a world where 800m people are malnourished, pulses are nutrition dense and affordable foods, which are already part of many governments’ food nutrition and security policies.

Unfortunately, despite their many widely acknowledged nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses, global consumption and production is not as high as it might be. Solving one of these things part is in the gift of each of us. So, if you want to play a (small) part in the Paris Convention, try eating your pulses, starting perhaps with the typically French Puy lentils in solidarity with France.

More recipes: http://www.pulses.org/recipes/

Read this post on Huffington Post Green.