Posted by bessie on Friday, January 29, 2010.

Eat your way to a healthy climate: new report

Wanted to share with you all a white paper that we just put out, entitled “The American Carbon Foodprint: Understanding and Reducing your Food’s Impact on Climate Change”. Using the emissions model that we built to power the footprint calculator on this website, we analyzed the cradle to grave climate impacts of the average diet, and pulled the results together in a report that explains and interprets them. It turned up some pretty enlightening (and sometimes rather surprising) stuff – good background for anybody who is into understanding the food they eat.

A few highlights:

  • The average American’s carbon “foodprint” is 6.1 tons of CO2e a year. That’s bigger than the combined impact of all their driving and flying.
  • Production accounts for close to half of a meal’s total climate impact, and red meat is by far the most potent emitter of all the food groups.
  • Of all the transportation emissions associated with your food, less than a tenth result from delivering food from the producer to the vendor, while more than two thirds result from your own driving to grocery stores and restaurants. That puts the importance of “food miles” in perspective!
  • Kitchen energy accounts for 29% of a meal’s life cycle impact. Cooking at home is far more carbon-efficient than eating in restaurants.

Yes, the climate impact of our dining habits is substantial. But it’s pretty straightforward for each of us to make changes that significantly reduce those impacts. We distilled the learnings into seven take-home tips:

  • Eat fewer animals and more plants
  • Buy unprocessed foods with less packaging
  • Grow and harvest your own food
  • Minimize car trips to restaurants and stores
  • Cook at home more and eat out less
  • Cook with efficient appliances and techniques
  • Compost, recycle, and relish leftovers

Check out the full paper to get answers to all the carbon foodprint questions you never knew you had, and let us know what you think.

Matthew <p style="text-align: center;"></p>

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