Food’s carbon footprint, or Foodprint, is the greenhouse gas emissions produced by growing, rearing, farming, processing, transporting, storing, cooking and disposing of the food you eat. How the food is grown or raised and how the food is cooked –both contribute to the carbon footprint.
How Carbon emission is mapped to food?
To understand how carbon emissions is linked to food production, we have to look into all those processes that help in bringing food from the field to our plates:
- Production: Agricultural farms have its own share in carbon emission while producing food products by engaging in deforestation, fertilizer production and use and livestock management. Agriculture is a significant driver of global warming and causes 15% of all emissions.
- Chemical agriculture: Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are widely used in agriculture, and are often made from fossil fuels.
- Source: Transporting food around and storing it generates emissions.
- Seasonality: Growing food around the year, importing from US, Europe or even cultivating in different states of our country, can be a high-carbon method of production. Seasonal food will have lower carbon footprint.
- Kitchen: Food waste in the home directly increases emissions as extra food production and expense is required when we waste food.
- An adult Indian man on balanced diet (vegetarian) consumed 1165 g food and emitted 723.7 g CO2 eq. GHG d−1.
- An adult Indian man on non-vegetarian meal with mutton emitted GHG(greenhouse gases) 1.8 times of a vegetarian meal
- The GHG emission during the life cycle of cooked rice was 2.8 times the GHG emission during the life cycle of chapatti
- Mutton emitted 11.9 times as much GHG as milk, 12.1 times fish, 12.9 times rice and 36.5 times chapatti
What can be done to reduce food Carbon footprint:
Buy food that that is organic and local:
If we are buying food that is produced organically it will cut down the emission caused by synthetic fertilizers, also if it is grown in nearby location, then emission arising from transportation also goes down.
Reduce your meat intake:
Meat, cheese and eggs have the highest carbon footprint, whereas Fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts have much lower carbon footprints. Meat production is a major contributor to climate change. It is estimated that livestock production accounts for 70 per cent of all agricultural land use and occupies 30 per cent of the land surface of the planet. Because of their sheer numbers, livestock produce a considerable volume of greenhouse gases. It will also depend on what one chooses to eat instead of the meat. With some substitutions, emissions could even rise. Lettuce, Eggplant, Celery seems to be more harmful to the environment than meat.
Reduce food wastage:
Buy only things that you can consume. It’s not only the food that we waste, we are also wasting all the resources that have been used to grow, ship, package and produce it, including liters of water. Growing vegetables at home also can drastically reduce the carbon footprint by completely avoiding the transportation and storage process.