The BBC has launched a new food calculator, helping readers to find out the environmental impact of their diet.
The calculator allows the user to choose a food, and then select how often they eat that food a week. It then works out the amount their consumption is contributing to annual greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
For example, the calculator can determine that if a person eats beef once or twice a week for a year, they are contributing 604kg to annual GHGs. According to the BBC, this is the equivalent of driving a car for 1,542 miles or heating the average UK home for 95 days.
As well as carbon footprint, the BBC calculator also evaluates how much land was used to produce the food. For one to two portions of beef, or the equivalent of two hamburgers, this is the equivalent of six tennis courts a year.
The BBC’s new tool also compares the consumption of your chosen food with other products from that food group. In comparison to beef, for example, two portions of nuts – a plant-based source of protein – a week emits 1.1kg of GHGs a year.
To make the calculator, the BBC worked with Joseph Poore, a university researcher and lead author of the biggest food production analysis ever, the results of which were released earlier this year. According to Poore, the biggest single thing a person can do to reduce their impact on the planet is to follow a vegan diet.
He said after the release of the study, “Agriculture is a sector that spans all the multitude of environmental problems. Really it is animal products that are responsible for so much of this. Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.”
As well as Poore, the BBC also collaborated with Thomas Nemecek, an agroecology and environmental researcher in Zurich to put together the calculator. To come up with the specifics, Poore and Nemecek analyzed data from almost 40,000 farms around the world, as well as 1,600 processors, packaging types, and retailers.
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