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The Carbon Footprint of Foods

TheStreet Logo By Samanda Dorger of TheStreet | Slide 1 of 31: One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is through your food choices. Food accounts for 10% to 30% of a household's carbon footprint, according to the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems. The actual production of food accounts for 68% of emissions, while its transportation accounts for just 5%. The more you choose plants over meats, the better your food choices are for the planet. BBC has a calculator to help determine the carbon footprint of your diet. According to the calculator, eating about 5 ounces of beef a week is the equivalent of driving a gas car 1,542 miles a year. Compare that to citrus fruit, which is equivalent to driving just 6 miles a year. Over at Our World in Data, Hannah Ritchie argues that what you eat has more impact than where it comes from, as transportation accounts for less than 10% of emissions for most food products, and less than 1% for beef. Based on Ritchie's examination of greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of food product, this list shows the emissions of a variety of common foods, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent, a measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases on the basis of their global-warming potential (GWP), by converting amounts of other gases to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide with the same global warming potential. The emissions figures in this list factor in the entire supply chain, including:   Land use changes, such as deforestation and soil carbon  Farm emissions, such as methane from cows, and emissions from fertilizers, manure and machinery  Animal feed, including emissions from crop production  Processing  Transportation  Retail energy use  Packaging production and disposal  Here is the carbon footprint of 29 common foods, ranked from highest to lowest.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is through your food choices. Food accounts for 10% to 30% of a household's carbon footprint, according to the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems. The actual production of food accounts for 68% of emissions, while its transportation accounts for just 5%.

The more you choose plants over meats, the better your food choices are for the planet. BBC has a calculator to help determine the carbon footprint of your diet. According to the calculator, eating about 5 ounces of beef a week is the equivalent of driving a gas car 1,542 miles a year. Compare that to citrus fruit, which is equivalent to driving just 6 miles a year.

Over at Our World in Data, Hannah Ritchie argues that what you eat has more impact than where it comes from, as transportation accounts for less than 10% of emissions for most food products, and less than 1% for beef.

Based on Ritchie's examination of greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of food product, this list shows the emissions of a variety of common foods, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent, a measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases on the basis of their global-warming potential (GWP), by converting amounts of other gases to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide with the same global warming potential.

The emissions figures in this list factor in the entire supply chain, including:

  • Land use changes, such as deforestation and soil carbon
  • Farm emissions, such as methane from cows, and emissions from fertilizers, manure and machinery
  • Animal feed, including emissions from crop production
  • Processing
  • Transportation
  • Retail energy use
  • Packaging production and disposal

Here is the carbon footprint of 29 common foods, ranked from highest to lowest.

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