Scientists Track The Carbon Footprint Of The Foods We Eat
New research suggests altering our eating habits for the good of the environment. IQed is not only superior nutrition, but it's also eco-friendly!
"Sustainable" is a buzzword used about food today, and signifies our population's growing commitment to environmental ethics. Choosing foods that will help lower greenhouse gas emissions may not sound as sexy as "sustainable", but scientists explain calculated the carbon footprint of the food we eat, so you can cook your next meal (including your Thanksgiving meal) without cooking the planet.
Fruits, grains, and vegetables had the smallest carbon footprints, followed by nuts and beans. Among animal proteins, chicken, pork, and fish offer the greenest options, while lamb and beef are the least eco-friendly. New research suggests altering our eating habits for the good of the environment. IQed is not only superior nutrition, but it's also eco-friendly!
The greenhouse gas emissions dataset by researchers at RMIT University and Lancaster University will help consumers as well as professinoal chefs calculate the environmental impact of the food they eat and the menus they serve. RMIT's Associate Professor Karli Verghese and Dr Enda Crossin, working with Lancaster's Dr Stephen Clune, have identified a clear greenhouse gas emissions hierarchy emerging across food categories.
The authors had worked with a residential age care organisation to develop a sustainability strategy to help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This started their attempt to understand more clearly the global warming potential of differing foods.
The aim of the study was to develop a dataset to support consumers and restaurants in calculating the impact of their ingredients and menus. The paper reviewed 369 published studies that provided 1718 global warming potential values for 168 varieties of fresh produce including vegetables, fruit, dairy products, staples, meat, chicken and fish.
The authors have produced a simple list to illustrate how much - or how little - it takes for different foods to contribute a kilogram of greenhouse gas emissions.
On average, 1kg of greenhouse gas emissions =
- 5.8kg of onions (about 50 medium onions)
- 3.5kg of apples (about 20 medium apples)
- 2.6kg oats
- 1kg lentils
- 1.2kg of peanuts
- 800ml of milk/whey
- 290g of salmon
- 290g of eggs (about 5 small eggs)
- 270g of chicken
- 244g of kangaroo
- 212g of rabbit
- 174g of pork (world average)
- 38g of beef (world average)
- 40g of lamb (world average)
Associate Professor Karli Verghese said the study was the largest and most comprehensive examination of its kind, providing the first global league table for fresh food.
"We wanted to help people make informed choices, to empower consumers and people working in the food industry who would like to reduce their environmental impact," Verghese said.
"With this full picture of the greenhouse gas impact of different foods, people can reliably work out more sustainable diets and menus for themselves and for their customers. It is possible to substitute red meat (beef and lamb) with other meats, or plant-based protein sources such as lentils and nuts that have a lower impact.
The paper,is published this week in the Journal of Cleaner Production.
Lisa Geng got her start as a designer, patented inventor,and creator in the fashion, toy, and film industries, but after the early diagnosis of her young children she entered the world of nonprofit, pilot studies, and advocacy. As the mother of two “late talkers,” she is the founder and president of the nonprofit CHERAB Foundation,co-author of the acclaimed book, The Late Talker, (St Martin’s Press 2003), and is instrumental in the development of IQed, a whole food nutrition meal replacement. Lisa currently serves as a parent advocate on an AAN board for vaccines, and is a member of CUE through Cochrane US. Lisa is currently working on a second book, The Late Talker Grows Up and serves as a Late Talkers, Silent Voices executive producer. She lives on the Treasure Coast of Florida.