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Food choices can help reduce greenhouse emissions

Changes in diet have been recommended as a way to reduce carbon emissions from the food system. Then again there has been little research on the affordability and likelihood of low-carbon food choices and how these choices could affect diet and climate change.

A new study that offers the up-to-date, most complete evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions caused by U.S. consumer food purchases proposes that, if Americans focused their food purchases away from meats and other animal proteins, they could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The study was conducted by researchers with the UConn Rudd Center and the Zwick Center, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, the University of Missouri, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

The findings of the study are as follows:

  • Activities that produce beef, pork and other red meat produced the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions from household purchases

  • More than 80 percent of households generating very high greenhouse gas emissions from their food spending were Caucasian

  • Involvement in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was linked with less greenhouse gas emissions from food spending

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