Saturday, July 19, 2014

Foodprints: how much we consume and how we can reduce it

By Charina A. Javier

How big is your carbon footprint?

That is the question most environmental conservation advocates usually ask.

Carbon footprint looks at the greenhouse gas emissions produced by one's activities.

According to World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF-Philippines), about 25 percent of a household's total carbon footprint comes from food.

Routine activities, from growing and farming the food we eat, to processing, transporting, storing, cooking and even disposing the waste, all contribute to total carbon emissions.

In contrast, ecological footprint (EF) measures how much of nature is used to produce resources and to absorb wastes by means of existing technologies that translates to land area. The Philippines is among the top ten ecological debtor countries in the world based on the Living Planet Report 2008 of the WWF-Philippines.

This means that the Philippines consumes resources more than what is available in terms of biocapacity.

The Philippines has a total biocapacity of 0.5 global hectares per person (gha/person).

Related to this, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) conducted a study on the influence of environmental conditions on the nutritional status of households in the National Capital Region (NCR) using the FNRI's 7th National Nutrition Survey in 2008.

The study found that the total EF of the NCR was 4.6666 gha/person.

This was more than twice higher than the global EF share of 2.1 gha/person indicating, that Filipinos living in the NCR use greater amount of products and services more than what an average person globally would consume.

The study also revealed that except for Mandaluyong City, all the cities in the NCR were outside the sustainable limits of their boundaries.

Thus, the cities of the NCR were among the cities in the list of ecological debtors that will eventually face an increasing risk from a growing dependence on the biocapacity of other regions.

Further, the study also found that the highest consumption category contributing to the total EF of all cities was food, which is about 95 percent.

Thus, food category alone exceeded the Philippine total biocapacity. The highest contribution came from eating outside the home, and intakes of beef and beef products.

In addition, a person who spends more on food, clothing, shelter, electricity and water, among other resources, produces higher EF and is more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI), based on the correlation analysis done.

The study recommends that in order to lessen the strain contributed by food to the total EF in the NCR, residents must lessen eating out, buy locally-produced products, and  policies on importation of food products must be reviewed before implementation.

Here are some practical ways that our households can do to reduce carbon footprint:

First, bring back home-cooking. Cooking our own meal lets us choose fresh ingredients, including vegetables, fruits or livestock from own backyard. It lessens consumption of processed food products. It also reduces transportation costs when buying food outside of home or having them delivered, thus, decreasing carbon emission from using vehicles. This means that one should eat out at restaurants less often.

Second is cooking smartly. This includes cooking only what you can consume to avoid food wastage, cooking food to just right doneness, and using energy-efficient equipment.

Third, eat more greens. The closer we eat food from its natural state, the safer it is and the lesser the carbon footprints we leave.

Fourth, buy local and sustainably-produced food. By this, we support not only our local farmers but also help in sustaining a green planet. The farther the source of the food that we buy, the bigger is our carbon contribution.

Fifth, shop wisely and choose foods carefully. Make a shoplist when going to the market to avoid going back and forth when missing buying an item. Choose fresh, natural products, if possible. Remember, frozen food has the highest carbon footprint.

Sixth, eat organic, and grow your own food. Growing our own food assures us that the food we are cooking and eating are fresh, safe and nutritious. This also saves money, relieves stress through the joy of gardening, and makes a greener environment.

Seventh, drink less bottled water. Don't buy if tap water is safe to drink, or bring your own filled-up water container.

Other green practices that we can do include reducing or recycling waste, using less packaging, saving water, thinking green construction, using energy efficiently, and going into renewable energy.

Each of us can do something to reduce our carbon footprint.

We can make a difference from choosing the kind of food we eat to using energy efficiently in saving our environment and improving our nutritional status in the long run.

For more information about food and nutrition, contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, Bicutan, Taguig City; Trunkline: 837-2071 local 2296 or 2287; Telephone/Fax No.: 837-3164; e-mail: or; Website: (FNRI S&T Media Services/PIA-Caraga)

Feature: Healthy brown choices

By Abbie L. Padrones

MANILA, July 19 (PIA) - The interest for new functional food alternatives has been steadily growing in the Philippines.

In response to this increasing demand, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), the leader in nutrition and research, developed healthy and delicious brown rice products.

Brown rice is utilized as the main ingredient for the power bar, cereal for babies six months to two years old, and cereal beverage for all children and adults, as part of a nationwide campaign to utilize brown rice.

Brown rice is rich in dietary fibers, phytic acids vitamins B1, B3, and B6 needed for efficient metabolism and maintaining good health systems.

Brown rice also contains Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which promotes relaxation and sleep. It also helps prevent seizures and chronic pain.

In spite of its nutritional benefits, only a marginal population consumes brown rice because of its cost, shorter shelf-life and traditional customs favoring milled rice.

The National Year of Rice was celebrated last year with efforts of promoting brown rice included in the celebration.

Studies on brown rice were conducted by the FNRI to improve its texture, prolong the shelf-life and improve convenience in cooking.

A recipe book featuring brown rice was also developed to offer varied cooking options and increase brown rice appreciation.

Processed functional foods such as beverages, complementary foods and snack foods were also developed to diversify the use of brown rice.

These innovative formulations include the brown rice power bar (BRB), brown rice cereal for babies six months to two years old (BRCB), and germinated brown rice beverage (GBRB).

Power in a Brown Bar
A convergence of good taste, healthy diet and convenience describes the new power bar of FNRI.

This nutty snack food has a sweet caramel taste and has the perfect blend of rich, soft, chewy and crunchy texture.

The power bar is high in fiber, rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and is suitable for all ages.        

Brown Rice Cereal

Eating healthy foods should start as early as the weaning period of six months when we introduce complementary food.

Nutrient analysis shows that the brown rice cereal is high in calories, phosphorus and calcium.

Aside from the health benefits of the complementary food, the FNRI improved the ease of preparing a healthy brown rice cereal by using the extrusion technology.
Extrusion renders the cereal cooked; thereby adding hot water completes the preparation.    

Germinated Brown Rice Beverage
High-energy cereal drinks are healthy breakfast alternatives. The fiber-dense germinated brown rice beverage has a refreshing chocolatey flavor and taste, and is suitable children and young adults.

For more information about food and nutrition, contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, Bicutan, Taguig City; Trunkline: 837-2071 local 2296 or 2287; Telephone/Fax No.: 837-3164; e-mail: or; Website: (FNRI S&T Media Services/PIA-Caraga)