One of the food service companies that I greatly admire is Bon Appétit Management Company. They provide café and catering services to corporations, colleges and universities, and specialty venues such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which I’ve been involved with for a number of years in their Seafood Watch program. They provide food service to over 400 locations in the U.S.
One of their initiatives is called the Low Carbon Diet: Food choices to Reduce Climate Change. They’ve created an on-line calculator http://www.eatlowcarbon.org that allows you to drop menu items into a virtual pan and see how food choices contribute to climate change. It’s very ingenious and enlightening. If this is something you care about definitely check it out.
Their top five low carbon diet tips:
1. You bought it, you eat it – - don’t waste food.
When you waste food, you waste the energy used to grow, transport and cook it. In landfill food waste releases methane gas, a highly potent greenhouse gas. Buy and prepare only the food you expect to eat. If you don’t finish it all in one sitting, save the leftovers (your Mom would be proud!).
2. Make “seasonal and regional” your food mantra.
Foods that are in season in your region are generally lower carbon choices. Those should be your first choice. Be careful not to buy produce grown in green or hot houses heated with non-renewable energy even if they are close to you. Ask!
3. Mooove away from Beef and Cheese
Livestock creates 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. If you eat meat and cheese, consider reducing portion sizes, selecting these items less frequently and only eating those products you really LOVE.
4. Stop flying fish and fruit – - don’t buy air-freighted food
For seafood and out of season produce, “fresh” often means “air-flown” which is 10 times more emission-intensive than transporting products by ship. The best quality seafood is usually ‘processed and frozen at sea’ and produce in season tastes better.
5. If it’s processed and packaged, skip it
Snack Foods, most juices, even veggie burgers (prepared, boxed, frozen and transported) consume a lot of energy. We eat this stuff mindlessly. When you need a treat or an “easy grab”, choose fresh local fruit, small quantities of nuts and delicious home made alternatives.
Not bad advice!
John Ash © 2009