What is a low carbon food? (video)

Food production results in a huge volume of greenhouse gases, but these vary greatly between foods.

This video looks at what a low carbon food is.

Two points in particular are worth noting about the data in the video.

The first is that these are point estimates, and each foodprint could vary considerably depending on how and where it is produced.  For example in the UK I can get out of season local tomatoes that have a foodprint of 5 kg CO2e/kg or some imported Spanish ones for about 1 kg g CO2e/kg (hot-housing outweighs transport).

The second is that these are only the emissions up to regional distribution center.  Once you count the emissions from retail losses and consumer waste the emissions associated with food consumption can be 50-100% higher.  Moreover these figures don’t account for land use emissions.

For simplicity let’s define a low carbon food as one that has production emissions of 1 kg CO2e/kg or lower.  By that definition there are lots of low carbon foods including:

almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, beans, cabbages, carrots, cherries, chestnuts, chickpeas, currants, dates, lemons, lentils, maize, millet, oats, oranges, peaches, pears, peas, plums, potatoes, raspberries, sugar, wheat

If you are lucky enough to live somewhere where you can grow tomatoes, bananas and mellons outside these would also meet our low carbon food criteria. 😉  Much of the data for this video and post come from the report How Low Can We Go, by the excellent Food Climate Research Network in the UK.

If you’re interested in how diet choice effects your total foodprint then check out the Carbon Foodprints of 5 Diets Compared, or for more general carbon footprint hacks grab a free copy of you eBook ‘Emit This‘.