Friday, August 6, 2010

PS 112-151: Ecological sustainability and students' consumption of meat in the school/cafeteria lunch: 1. Acquisition, preparation and consumption patterns

Paul Ofei-Manu, Sustainable Organizations and Societies for Africa (SOSAf, Ghana) and Satoshi Shimano, Miyagi University of Education.

Background/Question/Methods Meat consumption is directly linked to land, water and energy resources. It is also linked to several environmental problems including global warming, deforestation, biodiversity loss, loss of ecosystem goods/services, water and land pollution. The dwindling or deterioration of these resources,  growth in industrial livestock production that is being de-linked from  supporting natural resource base, an ever increasing demand  for animal protein with growth in income and population increase  are some of the major challenges currently confronting  global food production systems. The objective of the study was to evaluate the acquisition, preparation (local governance) and consumption patterns of protein sources of respondents, particularly meat in the school/cafeteria lunch in the context of ecological sustainability of production systems. 1720 respondents from upper elementary, second-cycle and tertiary institutions in Japan and Ghana were sampled using survey questionnaires. Representatives from two lunch preparation centers were interviewed.

Results/Conclusions Regarding food waste, except Japanese university students (43%), just a third to a fifth of respondents always consumed all their food. “Natural dislike” was the primary reason Japanese students did not consume all their food while “food does not taste good” was the primary reason Ghanaian students gave. “I don’t feel like eating” was the other major reason given by all students. As regards sources of protein including fish and dairy products, Japanese students got most of their proteins from beef and pork than Ghanaians; and together with chicken, got more protein from meat than from fish.  Ghanaian students got most of their proteins from fish and chicken (also, beans and eggs) than Japanese. With respect to preference for meat only, beef was the favorite of the Japanese (except university students) while chicken was the favorite of Ghanaians. For Japanese students, preference for beef somewhat decreased with increase in age and vice versa for chicken. Between 40% and 86% of the respondents ate more meat at home than in the school/cafeteria lunch, suggesting the home should be factored into any planned solution towards meat consumption. It was argued that to minimize food/meat waste, students should be actively involved in what food/meat to purchase and prepare for lunch.  Also, knowledge transfer about environmental impact of food/meat production and consumption to respondents and other policy considerations involving spatial and temporal distribution patterns of type of meat consumed, recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein, product (protein) substitutes, and waste reduction, are crucial for promoting and expanding sustainable lifestyles and modes of production.