Fresh Food

What We Eat Can Reduce Climate Change

Tufts University study IDs pork, beef and melons as some of the main offenders


A new study from Tufts University in Medford, Mass., provides the latest and most comprehensive estimate of greenhouse gas emissions generated by United States consumer food purchases, and assesses how those choices could affect diet and climate change.

The study suggests that if Americans directed their food purchases away from meats and other animal proteins, they could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It goes on to say that altering food consumption could be a key area for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as food purchases accounted for 16% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2013. To compare, commercial/residential activity accounted for 12% and industrial activity accounted for 21%. Wow.

Key findings of the study include:

  • Industries that produce beef, pork and other red meat generated the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions from household purchases, approximately 21%, followed by fresh vegetables and melons (11%), cheese industries (10%), and milk products and butter (7%).
  • Greenhouse gas emissions generated by household food spending varied by race and educational attainment.
  • More than 80% of households generating very high greenhouse gas emissions from their food spending (top fifth of households) were white. Twenty-six percent of households with the highest (top fifth) tier of greenhouse gas emissions had a survey respondent with a college degree, compared to approximately 12% in the bottom fifth for greenhouse gas emissions.

Might be time to change the slogan to We Breathe What We Eat.



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