Everything that we do has a carbon footprint, including the food that we eat. We hardly ever pay attention to the carbon footprint of the food we eat, but it does have an undeniable impact on the environment. Food travels for miles, sometimes thousands of miles to reach our tables, which contributes to emission of greenhouse gases. Also, the production of some foods leads to the emission of these gases into the environment. Some foods have much higher emissions than others. Read on to find out which of your favorite foods have a massive carbon footprint:
Here are the foods which are responsible for the highest greenhouse gas emissions per kg of weight:
Bad news for lamb lovers! Lamb is the number one culprit which has a huge carbon footprint. Eating one kilo of lamb is equal to driving 90 miles! It emission per kg is 39.2 CO2, produced due to shipping and because of the animal’s digestion, farm operations, manure management and feed. Meat eaters who love lamb need to cut down on lamb consumption, if they want to reduce their carbon footprint.
Beef is another favorite meat all over the world. But beef too has a high carbon footprint. Buffaloes and cows produce hefty amounts of methane, a very harmful greenhouse gas, and require a lot of water and land. Its emission per kg is 27 kg CO2 per kg of beef.
Did you know that cheese, which is consumed by most people in the world, is a major contributor of CO2?It has a high carbon footprint of 13.5 CO2 kg per kg of cheese. Since we love cheese in so many forms, it’s difficult to give up completely, but maybe we can consume much less.
Pork is number four on the list, with 12.1 kg CO2 per kg of pork. Emissions from pork are mostly due to their raising, transport, processing and cooking at home. Bacon and ham are the favorite food of many people around the world, and pork lovers would be surprised to know that their meat of choice has such a high carbon footprint.
- Farmed salmon
At 11.9 kg CO2 per kg, farmed salmon is fifth on the list. The sources of emission for greenhouse gas emissions are farming methods, feed production, electricity usage, and fuel combustion.
Who doesn’t love turkeys at Thanksgiving? But turkeys are a big source of greenhouse gas emissions, 10.9 kg CO2per kg, mainly produced during feed production, home cooking and processing.
For meat lovers, chicken seems to be the best option as it produces the least amount of greenhouse gases – 6.9 Kg CO2. The reasons for emission of greenhouse gases is the same as turkey i.e. feed production, processing and home cooking, but the amount of gas produced is much less.
- Canned Tuna
Canned Tuna produces 6.1 kg CO2 due to the diesel combustion on fishing boats, during processing, packaging and transportation. The fishing trawlers have to travel many miles out to the sea / ocean and back, and the diesel used up by them is the main cause of greenhouse gas emissions.
Eggs too have a carbon footprint, about 4.8 kg CO2, but seems to be the most viable option in animal sourced food products. The factors for greenhouse gas emission are farm energy use, feed production, fuel combustion and NO gas from the litter. But for those who seek protein from poultry sources, eggs seem to be ideal for them.
Potatoes are eaten almost everywhere in the world. It’s the vegetable that is common to most countries and you’d be surprised to know that it has a high carbon footprint, 2.9 kg CO2 per kg. Most of it comes from the coking process and varies according to the method of cooking. For example, fried potatoes, produces less emissions than baked potatoes, because they take a much lesser time to cook.
Food habits are very personal and vary from person to person depending on nutrition, regional and cultural preferences. But we must make an effort to reduce our consumption of those foods which have a huge carbon footprint. Climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions is already a reality and only a collective effort globally can help in minimizing further damage to the environment.