Seventh Generation, the green cleaning company, has an interesting item in its latest newsletter about food and carbon footprints. It says that what a typical American household eats generates about eight metric tons of greenhouse gases per year. Put in auto terms: About twice the emissions of a car getting 25 mpg and driven 1,000 miles a month.
I thought I knew the rest of the story, that these high emissions were all due to the distance that most food travels to our plates. But no. According to Seventh Generation, research from Carnegie Mellon has found that the biggest culprit is the food itself: 83% of food’s greenhouse gas emissions are due to what it is and how it is produced, versus just 11% for transportation.
One solution is remembering what your mom used to say at meal time: Eat your vegetables. Raising beef (the supermarket kind, not the beef from pastured cows like Upper Meadows’) generates 30% of our food-related greenhouse gas emissions. The newsletter says that going vegetarian just one day a week would be like cutting 1,160 miles off your car’s yearly mileage. Another solution is to buy organic. The soil on organic farms like Upper Meadows can absorb and sequester more carbon than the chemical-doused dirt on so-called conventional farms.
The newsletter says that, according to some estimates, if the U.S. grew all its corn and soybeans organically it would cut 580 billion pounds of carbon from the atmosphere. Leonard and Bonnie are re-glazing the potting greenhouse and will begin planting your local fresh vegetables this week! Now is a great time to join our CSA!
The newsletter has some additional tips and links to calculators that help you learn more about low-carbon eating.