- Orange Coast Voice blog, August 16, 2008
- Orange Coast Voice newspaper, August 2008
Better Food Choices Get Better Results in Global Warming Battle than Food Miles Reduction
By Sarah S. Mosko, Ph.D.
“Buying local” has become a mantra of many committed to shrinking their personal climate footprint by limiting the miles their food travels from producer to plate. The increasing globalization of food supplies has served to fan this trend.
However, a new study finds that what you eat has a far greater impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than where that food was produced. What’s more, saying no to red meat and dairy products even one day a week matters more than buying local all week long.
Number crunchers Christopher Weber and Scott Matthews at Carnegie Mellon University drew on U.S. government statistics from 1997 to expose the entire life-cycle GHG emissions associated with the diet of the average American household.
Emissions fell into one of four categories, starting with upstream supply chain transportation wherein equipment and supplies are supplied to food producers. Then comes the food production phase, followed by final delivery transportation from point of production to retailer. The latter is synonymous with so-called food-miles that are the focus of advocates of buying local. The fourth source of emissions occurs during wholesaling and retailing and includes store heating and air-conditioning and food refrigeration.