Environmental Protection & Preservation
An Inconvenient Tooth: Food Is Major Contributor to Climate Change
Global warming activists have a new ally in their fight to save the planet -- lunch.
It turns out that food (and all the energy it takes to make it) is one
of the largest human activities contributing to global warming. The average
American creates 2.8 tons of CO2 emissions each year by eating -- even more
than the 2.2 tons each person generates by driving, according to recent
research (Echel and Martin, 2006).
Beginning on Earth Day, 2007, Bon Appetit Management Company -- the
nation's pioneer in "greening" food service, is launching a national
campaign to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and help their guests
do the same.
With 400 cafes in corporations, universities and specialty venues
nationwide -- including Yahoo!, Oberlin College and the Seattle Art Museum
-- Bon Appetit will encourage chefs and diners to think about how their
food choices could help ease the climate crisis.
"It is insane to sit down to lunch in Los Angeles and drink water that
has traveled 5,000 miles from Fiji," said Helene York, director of the Bon
Appetit Management Company Foundation, the program's organizer. "We are
scrutinizing our own food habits to reduce our carbon footprint as a
company, and we are helping our guests do the same on an individual level."
The Low Carbon Diet will include:
- Reducing the use of beef by 25% -- Livestock production is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Sourcing all meat and poultry from North America -- 80% of the energy used by the food system comes not from growing food, but from transporting and processing it.
- Sourcing nearly all fruits and vegetables from North America, using seasonal local produce as a first preference and using tropical fruits only as "special occasion" ingredients -- Most bananas have traveled 3,000 miles in high-speed refrigerated ships to reach an American breakfast plate. A local apple might be grown within 10 miles.
- Serving only domestic bottled water and reducing waste from plastic bottles -- Americans throw away 40 million plastic water bottles every day.
- Reducing food waste -- Goal of 25% reduction in three years or less.
- Auditing the energy efficiency of kitchen equipment -- In home or commercial kitchens energy losses of up to 30% can be easily corrected for very low cost.
In addition, beginning on Low Carbon Diet Day in April, 2008, Bon
Appetit Management Company will introduce a carbon point system so that
guests can calculate the impact of their personal food choices and thereby
make knowledgeable decisions about and/or adjustments to their own diet.
, which serves more than 80 million meals per year, has
taken a radical approach to the business of food service by bringing
sustainably-grown foods to the American public through their Farm to Fork
standard (buying from local farmers and artisan producers), initiatives in
sustainable seafood, milk without artificial hormones, antibiotic reduction
in poultry and meat, trans- fat free cooking, cage-free eggs, and their
stand against animal cloning.
"The Low Carbon Diet is about eating in a way that is conscious of
environmental impact. It also happens to be about a $400 million company
making radical decisions that are smart business," added York. "Our Low
Carbon Diet gets to the heart of an issue that has been conspicuously
absent from the global warming conversation."
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