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Know your milk – Try your hand in our quiz!

Photo by rosipaw via Flickr.

The annual Bolin Centre Climate Festival for youth took place between the 21st and the 23rd of May at Stockholm University. The festival is a way to increase the engagement of youth in middle and high school in climate issues. During the festival, the students had the chance to meet researchers, attend lectures and participate in various activities related to climate change. SIANI took part in the festival, along with other organisations, including Föreningen för Utvecklingsfrågor (FUF), Fältbiologerna and Svenskt Sigill.

SIANI participated with an exciting interactive exhibition which consisted of a quiz about agriculture, sustainable consumption and climate change. Surprisingly, the majority of students were unaware of the environmental impacts of milk products. Although the questions were rather simplified, most students had not considered how water usage and carbon dioxide emissions vary between production processes. Try out the quiz yourself and see how much you know about sustainability and food!

Quiz answers and information

  1. Which one of the following milk products requires the most amount of water in its production? Right answer: Almond milk. Around 80 % of the world’s almonds are exported from California; requiring ca 100 billion gallons of water per year to grow. That is enough to fill 1.36 million Olympic swimming pools, in an environment with summer temperatures that can rise above 40 degrees Celsius. Source: BBC
  1. Which one of the following milk products causes the highest emission of methane? Right answer: Cow milk –  Methane is a greenhouse gas around with 20 times stronger impact on climate change than carbon dioxide. Methane gas is created in oxygen free environments like rice paddies or in the digestive system of different livestock, and a single cow can produce more than 100 Kg of methane per year: Source: Foodtank
  1. Which one of the following milk products causes the highest emissions of carbon dioxide? Right answer: Soy milk – The soy bean is used for a number of things, from fodder to livestock to the soy sauce and milk. This leads to a big demand for the product, which in turn increases the need for new agricultural land to grow it. Unfortunately, a large part of the world’s soy beans are grown in tropical environments, where their cultivation is associated with cutting down rain forests. The result is not only damage to animals and plants, but it also means the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide. This deforestation and the emissions related to livestock farming is the reason why we put it at the top of our list. Source: WWF
  1. Do you need to eat meat in order to get enough intake of protein in your diet? Right answer: No – Protein is the building blocks of the body and made out of ca 20 amino acids. Nine of these our bodies can’t produce on our own, meaning we need to get them through our food. While meat is one obvious source of protein, by eating different kinds of vegetable foodstuffs it is possible to get enough of these amino acids. Import examples of such sources include legumes such as peas, beans and lentils. Source: FAO
  2. Which one of the following countries uses the least amount of antibiotics in its agriculture? Right Answer: NorwayMany Scandinavian countries are at the top of list, and Sweden is and has been a champion in proving how low amount of antibiotics in agriculturele doesn’t need to equal lower production numbers. That being said, Norway tops the list. Source: Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (p. 16)
  1. Is locally produced food always best for the environment?
    Right Answer: No – This question is complicated since we need to distinguish between local impact, having to do with things like cultivation methods, and global impact due to such things as transportation. A crop could thus be organically grown in a greenhouse heated by fossil fuels. To add to this, there is not agreed upon certification standard or agreement about what is ”locally produced”, meaning there is no way to compare products equally. This means that while sustainably grown produce bought locally is probably a safer bet in terms of environmental impact, it cannot be categorically stated the just the distance between farm and table is the determining factor. Source: Iowa State University.
  1. How much of the food consumed in Sweden is produced domestically?
    Right answer: 50% – To calculate how dependent a country is on imported food is a tricky equation since it not only has to do with shares of products bought in stores originating there, it is also related to other factors like depend on so called “Intermediate goods” like fodder, machine parts, agrochemicals, energy etc. If you break it down, you will also get very different numbers for different foodstuffs, meaning that an average percentage is an indicator but not the whole truth. Lastly, some food items is impossible to grow in Sweden, meaning that dependency number doesn’t mean equal what percentage of the items in your local supermarket is from Sweden. Source: (SR)
  1. How long will it take before Sweden’s food supply runs out?
    Right answer: 1 week – Up until around the end of the 20th century, Sweden had a national food reserves, but due to a number of changes like entering the common market of the European Union and the fall of the Soviet Union, these reserves were discontinued. In other words, no government agency has any sole responsibility for food preserves, meaning that the food available at any given time is mostly what is available in the warehouses of the big supermarket chains. Source: SVT
  1. What share of global greenhouse gases comes from the agricultural sector?
    Right answer: ca 25%. Like most figures in this quiz, these numbers are very dependent on how broad your definition is and if you also count indirect sources, include forestry in the equation etcetera. The number from the latest IPCC report for agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU is 24 %. At the end of the day, it is clear that the agricultural sector both is facing great challenges related to climate change as it is both a major emitter and greatly affected by the effects of changed weather patterns and temperatures. However, this also means that transforming the agricultural sector in a sustainable manner would help turn it from an emitter and part of the problem to a part of the solution. Source: IPCC.