Would you change your diet if you knew which foods did least damage to the planet?
RMIT’s Associate Professor Karli Verghese and Dr Enda Crossin, working with Lancaster University’s Dr Stephen Clune, have identified a clear greenhouse gas emissions hierarchy emerging across food categories.
In a project to help a residential age care organisation develop a sustainability strategy, researchers found the food served to residents contributed a large portion of the environmental impact.
However, it was difficult to estimate the impact of a revised menu, as information was so dispersed.
The research team subsequently reviewed 369 published articles assessing the global warming potential for 168 varieties of fresh produce.
They then produced a greenhouse gas emissions dataset to support consumers and catering organisations to calculate the impact of their ingredients and menus.
It illustrates how much – or how little – of different foods it takes to contribute a kilogram of greenhouse gas emissions.
“We wanted to help people make informed choices, to empower consumers and people working in the food industry who would like to reduce their environmental impact,” Professor Verghese said.
“With this full picture of the greenhouse gas impact of different foods, people can reliably work out more sustainable diets and menus for themselves and for their customers.”
You can read more about this study’s results here.
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