Health – UConn Today
Changes in diet have been discussed as a way to reduce carbon emissions within the food system, but there has been little research to date on the affordability and feasibility of low-carbon food choices in the U.S. Until now.
A new study by the University of Connecticut offers the most comprehensive estimate of greenhouse gas emissions generated by U.S. consumer food purchases. The findings suggest that if Americans directed their food purchases away from meats and other animal proteins, they could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Food purchases accounted for 16 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, according to the study, published June 7 in the journal Food Policy. By comparison, commercial/residential activity accounted for 12 percent, and industrial activity accounted for 21 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The study was led by researchers at the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity; UConn Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy; Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; the University of Missouri; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.
“We found that households that spend more of their weekly food budget on beef, chicken, pork, and other meats are generating more greenhouse gas emissions,” says Rebecca Boehm, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at UConn. “Encouraging consumers to make food choices that are lower in greenhouse gas emissions can make a real difference addressing climate change.”
Key findings include:
Industries that produce beef, pork, and other red meat generated the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions from household purchases, approximately 21 percent, followed by fresh vegetables and melons (11 percent), cheese industries (10 percent), and milk products and butter (7 percent).
Greenhouse gas emissions generated by household food spending varied by race and educational attainment. More than 80 percent of households generating very high greenhouse gas emissions from their food spending ( …