Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Your Food Choices and the Environment

This from our contributor Oliver Hickman

A recent report by Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews (funded by the EPA and NSF) published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology (and available on the American Chemical Society's website) investigates the impact of dietary choices on the environment. The report finds that while eating locally can reduce the environmental impact of your food, the choices of what you eat can have a greater impact.

According to the report shifting your diet away from red meat one day a week can reduce the environmental impact of your food consumption as much as eating all your food locally does.

While the report finds that eating locally has a comparatively smaller impact than the choices of what you buy and eat, due to its scope focusing on dietary choices alone, it is important to remember that reducing the environmental impact of the transport of your food is just one of many reasons to eat locally. Eating locally encourages locally, family and minority owned agriculture and businesses, dissuades monoculture, returns the community involvement in the food supply, reduces packaging, provides tastier, healthier and fresher produce, reminds us of the seasonality of food and gives a direct feedback loop to the food producers, each of which is reason enough to eat locally.

The report may be found on-line at the ACS website at:
The ACS also has a summary and discussion of the report at:

An interview with Christopher Webber may be heard on Science Friday's website:

This one graphic pretty much sums up the report:

Thanks Oliver.

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