The Use of Organic Foods, Regional, Seasonal and Fresh Food in Public Caterings
The chapter focuses on possibilities to improve the quality of meals in public, especially school catering facilities. It presents the options for diet modifications towards a sustainable use of organic foods, local and seasonal food by optimizing portions of meat and meals prepared of fresh ingredients. From an economic, environmental and nutritional point of view, evaluation and comparison of the original and optimized meals can contribute to a more efficient use of foods and motivate staff in public catering facilities to comprehensive food assessment.
Part of the book: Organic Farming
Life Cycle Assessment Method – Tool for Evaluation of Greenhouse Gases Emissions from Agriculture and Food Processing
The chapter focuses on the use of the Life Cycle Assessment method to monitor the emission load of foods from different systems of farming production. The products of the conventional and organic farming production intended for public catering are compared within the SUKI and UMBESA international projects. Conventional farming is mainly characterized by high inputs of mineral fertilizers, chemical pesticides, the use of hormones and stimulants in animal husbandry. It is a system based on the highest possible yields without respecting the natural principles of nature. Conversely, organic farming is a system of production established by the legislation that respects fundamental natural cycles, such as crop rotation, ensures welfare of animals, prohibits the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and other substances of synthetic origin. However, lower yields are a big disadvantage. In the Czech Republic, only about one tenth of the agricultural fund is currently used for organic farming. Arable land constitutes only about 10% of the total area of agricultural land, other areas are mainly grasslands and orchards. The work primarily aims to answer to the question whether the selection of foods may contribute to decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, which is a part of the objectives of many policies. Besides the comparison of agricultural production, processed and unprocessed foods, local and imported foods and fresh and stored foods were compared as well. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which is used to assess environmental impacts of products and services throughout their entire life cycle, was used to quantify the emission load. This method may be briefly characterized as a gathering of all inputs and outputs that take place during the production in the interaction with the environment. These inputs and outputs then also determine the impact on the environment. The LCA consists of four successive and iterative phases: This concerns the definition of objectives and scope, inventory analysis, impact assessment and interpretation of the results. The LCA was originally developed for the assessment of impacts of especially industrial products. Certain methodological problems and deficiency, which bring a level of uncertainty of the results, have been caused by its adaptation to agricultural product assessment, but this method is still recommended for comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts of agricultural production and the comparison of different agricultural products. In this study, a Cradle-to-Gate assessment was performed, which means that the impacts of products (in this case the emission formation) were evaluated only to the delivery of foods to public facilities, further treatment and waste management was not assessed. About 20 most frequently used foods for school catering facilities were compared. The results of the project confirm the general assumption about the less emission load of unprocessed, fresh and local products. It may not clearly state that products from organic farming produce less emissions when comparing agricultural systems. It always depends on the particular crop. The absence of synthetic substances such as fertilizers and pesticides reduces the emission load of organic farming, on the other hand, a higher number of mechanical operations and especially the lower income clearly increase the emission burden, therefore, in several cases, lower emission loads of crops were achieved using the conventional farming system. However, less emission may be achieved within the organic farming system. Among 11 evaluated agricultural products, 8 organic products and only 3 conventional ones go better. The situation is different regarding the following phases of food production, processing and transport. The transport phase significantly worsens the environmental profile of organic foods, because transport distances are too far due to insufficient processing capacity and underdeveloped market networks, and often exceed the emission savings from the agricultural phase. On the contrary, conventional foods are carried within relatively short distances, therefore the final emission load of conventional foods is in many cases fewer than the load of organic foods. This fact is also confirmed by the result of the study, because among 22 evaluated foods, organic food goes better in 11 cases and conventional food in 11 cases as well.
Part of the book: Greenhouse Gases