Many people want to lower the “Carbon Footprint” of their food. This is a measure of carbon dioxide (the major greenhouse gas) from field to plate. One of the most important things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and help slow climate change is to change your diet.
How to Modify Your Diet to Help Cool the Planet
(1) Decrease your calories—the average American calorie intake is 3750 calories per day, not only does this expand the waist-line, it is a waste of energy. It take a lot of gas, oil, and coal (thus a lot of carbon dioxide) to grow, produce, transport, store, and cook this food!
(2) Decrease red meat and dairy, eat a plant-based diet (a vegetarian diet produces 33% less greenhouse gas emissions).
- Learn to cook with legumes (dried beans and peas) such as pinto beans, lentils, black beans (see the recipe section for some ideas).
- When you do eat meat and dairy choose grass-fed (pasture raised) and organic and choose smaller portions.
- Make sure that your beef has not originated from Brazil where deforestation of the rain forest for cattle ranching is adding to the carbon burden. The tropical rainforests are literally the lungs of the planet and hold the richest biodiversity of any ecosystem on earth.
- check COOL labeling to find out if your food was grown in the USA http://www.consumersunion.org/pdf/CU-Cool-Tool.pdf (remember the longer food travels the bigger the carbon footprint).
(3) Avoid foods that have been transported by air which is very carbon intense—(10 times as much as trucks)—foods such as tropical fruits, berries, and many types of fish are transported by airplanes.
(4) Decrease processed foods (processing in general equates to more energy use).
(5) Go with Bulk foods to reduce packaging.
(6) Whole foods are a better choice. They are the opposite of processed.
(7) Drink tap water, not bottled water. Each 12 ounce plastic bottle uses 4 ounces of oil for its production.
(8) Choose organic. Studies have shown that Organic agriculture uses much less energy than conventional agriculture. For example: artificial fertilizers used in conventional agriculture are made from natural gas and pesticides used in conventional agriculture are made from oil.
(9) Choose local when possible. Local foods not only support your community but you often reduce the energy used in transportation.
(10) Minimize energy use in the kitchen:Refrigerators are the biggest energy user in the kitchen:Use simple, faster recipes, such as one-skillet recipes. See some examples in the recipe section.
- Energy star appliances use 50% less energy and water.
- Use small appliances such as microwaves and toaster ovens instead of turning on your oven.
- Set your refrigerator temperature at 39%, colder than that is a waste of energy.
- Check seals on refrigerator by putting an envelope in the side—if it falls out seals are not tight enough, consider replacement.