Eat your way to a smaller carbon footprint
Summer is filled with fun picnics, backyard parties, and tasty food. Sweet, right? Have you ever considered how all that food is impacting your carbon footprint? Bringing our food from seed to table accounts for as much as a quarter of all human carbon emissions on our planet. Summer is a great time to take advantage of local produce and reduce the impact of your food. Eating seasonally and locally can reduce the carbon footprint of your food by up to 10%. Read on to find out the details and more summer sizzling ways to reduce your food’s carbon emissions!
Food Miles: Is eating locally always better?
When we talk about the carbon footprint of food, the first thing we should consider is the distance it travels, or “food miles”. You can reduce the carbon footprint of your food by up to 7% by eating locally. Food miles are only a small part of our food’s carbon emissions, so to devise the best strategy to cut its carbon footprint, we need to look at the whole story of our food. Sometimes, eating local food out of season may have a larger footprint than importing food grown within the same season for several reasons:
Storing food consumes electricity and may create more CO2 than transport.
Growing food in a non-native climate may require a hot house, which also uses power.
Growing food from warmer areas in colder climate requires a lot of fertilizer, which produces CO2e gasses.
In fact, up to 83% of CO2 emissions come from food production, which mainly consist of growing and storing food.
Between conventional and organic – pick sustainable!
There is a large debate concerning the carbon footprint of organic and conventional agriculture. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations claims that by switching to organic agriculture farmers can reduce up to 66% of CO2 emissions. Large agricultural companies claim otherwise. For example, BASF claims that organically grown apples have higher overall energy consumption (+15-25%), CO2 emissions (+5-15%), and land use (+30%).
If you can, choose sustainable food. While organic and sustainable products often sound synonymous, this is not always the case. Organic products consider mainly the aspect of human health, while sustainable practices take into account the economic, social, and ecological factors to ensure that we will continue to have the resources to protect the Earth.
So, how do you find sustainable food? While there is no sustainability label yet, there is an app for that! Plus, there is always the farmers market, where you can find out the story of your food directly from the growers. If no sustainable option is available, organic food remains the second best choice as often it is grown in a more sustainable fashion than conventionally grown produce.
Independent studies show organic agriculture is likely to have a smaller carbon footprint, but they use more land per kilogram of produce. Even organic dairy farming has a smaller carbon footprint than conventional. Check out our projects which help reduce the carbon footprint of dairy farms.
Avoid processed foodRead the full and original article at TerraPass
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