Three ways to reduce the carbon footprint of household food

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Most consumers want to make smart food purchases for their wallet, health and the environment. Although switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet may reduce the impact on greenhouse gas emissions, it may not be realistic, healthy, or preferred by everyone.

ACS Environmental Science & Technology researchers have discovered three ways in which the carbon footprint of food purchases can be reduced, without the need for drastic dietary changes.

The transport of food from the farm to the plate of consumers has a significant impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. Meat and dairy products lead to higher emissions than fruits, vegetables and grains. Based on this knowledge, the researchers provided suggestions for changes that people can make to reduce them. However, most of these recommendations were based on an “average American diet.” In reality, not everyone eats the same types or amounts of food, so to take into account the diversity, Hua Cai and colleagues evaluated the actual foods purchased by US households, in order to identify the strong points of carbon emissions in them.

In 2010, researchers analyzed detailed records of food purchases from more than 57,000 households in the United States and, for each household, summed up greenhouse gas emissions for food cultivation and harvesting. Packing and shipping data was not included because this information was not available. They then compared the emissions calculation generated from buying food for a healthy and sustainable reference diet.

The research team’s analysis showed that 71% of households surveyed could reduce their food carbon footprint by identifying three main ways in which consumers can do so. The suggestions are as follows:

Small households of one or two people should buy less food in bulk, and producers should offer packages of the right size.

Eliminating high-calorie foods and low nutritional values would reduce total potential emissions by 29%, while improving health outcomes.

People should buy less salty baked goods and ready-made food. Although these foods are responsible for relatively low carbon emissions, the large quantities of these items that are purchased add up to significant emissions.

At the same time, a healthy diet brings you many benefits in terms of the general health of the body. With the help of the Dahna application, which you can download for free from the App Store or Google Play, you have access to personalized diets, but also physical workouts suitable for your style and needs.

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