21 May 2022

Trying to avoid greenhouse gas emissions-causing foods

For my side gig, I shine a light on many aspects of climate change. One of the sessions is dedicated to what you can do as a private citizen, and one of the topics I deal with then is food. It makes a difference whether you eat energy-inefficient foods from far away, or just vegetables from your own valley. And on the 'our World in Data' website where you can get a reasonable estimate of the amount of CO2 emitted per unit mass of quite a range of foodstuffs. And you can toggle them on and off; you can avoid clutter by doubling the food you don't eat anyway. Then I toggled everything on I actually eat, and looked at the results. And my three main vices are: cheese, coffee, chocolate, with 21, 19 and 17 kg of CO2 per kg of food. Mind you; be a lot worse; beef is worse at 60. But still. Should I do something about this?

I suppose the biggest change would be to stop eating cheese. I have never stopped eating it, as the mind is willing and all that, but I have cut down my consumption years ago already. I suppose I should reduce it even more. Watch this space.

I don't eat chocolate as is; if I eat chocolate, it is because I have baked with it. And I bake all sorts of other things as well, so I don't use an awful lot of the stuff. I do go through quite a lot of coffee, though. Could I make an improvement there? I am aware that there are alternatives. My mother was drinking one decades ago. And I think it's okay. The local food co-op sells it! So I thought I'd buy a jar and see how I would get on. It doesn't have caffeine in it, but most of the coffee I drink is decaf anyway. So what I might do is have a phased approach: first replace my decaf with this stuff. I admit I don't know what carbon footprint is of this coffee alternative, but it is clearly based on the vegetable that just grows here. (A site of which I don't know the reliability suggests it is low.) And it is made of the root of chicory; I suppose that would be a waste product if it wouldn't be turned into this beverage. So it is likely this is quite an improvement per kilo consumed product! And while I am making this improvement, I will keep pondering the potential improvement I can make in the cheese department…

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