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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Pecking Order for Carbon Footprint to Keep with your Shopping List?

A new study has been made at Lancaster University by Dr. Stephen Clune that has led to a comprehensive list of food ingredients being ordered according to their carbon footprint. Through his work with catering firms, nursing homes and hospitals, Dr. Clune is helping them to plan for more sustainable menus in the local area.

Working with colleagues in the University of Melbourne, Dr. Clune has identified a definite trend towards supporting vegan and vegetarian diets with fish, lamb, pork and beef following on behind.

Here is a sample from the list taken from the Lancaster University website which shows the figures for 1 kilogram of greenhouse gas emissions:-

  • 5.8 kg of onions – approximately 50 medium onions
  • 3.5 kg of apples – approximately 20 medium apples
  • 2.6 kg oats
  • 1 kg lentils
  • 1.2 kg of peanuts
  • 0.8 litres milk
  • 290 g salmon
  • 290 g eggs – approximately 5 small eggs
  • 270 g chicken
  • 160 g UK pork
  • 40 g UK beef or lamb

Although variations can be seen between different types of grains, vegetables and fruits these are always found at the bottom of the list of possible food ingredients. Nuts and pulses come next so a diet based exclusively on switching to these vegan choices can clearly be seen to bring a long term benefit to the planet. Interestingly, a lacto-vegetarian choice where milk products are included in the diet is a close second, which is not necessarily so intuitive when you consider that milk is produced by cows.

Another interesting point is the link between salmon, eggs and poultry, which are pretty much on a par when it comes to their carbon footprint, although you can have slightly less chicken for your kilo of emissions. But just look at that figure for beefburgers or lamb chops. 40 gms is not even 1 and a half ounces, so you should definitely feel the guilt piling up next time you go for your 80z prime sirloin steak!

Will this collection of scientific data lead to us making greener choices with our food as well as healthier ones? We’ve been told for years that cutting down on red meat is good for our health. Now here’s some hard facts to give us all another reason to stay healthy!

Dr. Clune also pointed out in his research paper that his work with a residential care home had shown just how high the percentage of total emissions from the home were due to food. Many of us may have previously assumed that our main problem was energy use when in fact we can do far more by changing our diets than by switching to renewable energy! Of course, if we can do both then so much the better.

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