New Consumer-Friendly Online Calculator Reduces Food's Carbon Footprint

With food responsible for 1/3 of global greenhouse gas emissions, food service maverick Bon Appetit Management Company has introduced the Low Carbon Diet Calculator, an easy web-based calculator to help citizens reduce the global warming impact of their food.

This is the world's first food carbon calculator that gives an accurate account of high versus low carbon food choices.

A 'high carbon' diet equals 4,500 points per day, according to extensive research on how food is grown, processed, transported, prepared and packaged. The calculator utilizes a point system, in which one point equals one gram of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of greenhouse gases.

Americans' annual food consumption accounts for up to 4 tons of carbon emissions per person, according to government research on food consumption and analysis conducted by Bon Appetit. Overall, food -- and all the energy it takes to grow, process, transport and prepare it -- is responsible for 1/3 of all global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Pew Center.

The Low Carbon Diet calculator tallies the emissions of favorite foods from lasagna to burritos, fresh and prepared foods, simple and exotic meals. Common high-carbon foods in the American diet include:

  • Hamburger = 1,597 points. Cheese adds 258 more points.
  • Tuna flown from afar = 1,175 points
  • Hothouse vegetables = 752 points

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