Eating Locally isn’t as Important as you Think

Diets make a difference in your individual health and our total global health. If we all eat healthier then the planet’s health will also improve, and the best way to do this is by eating foods with low green house gas (GHG) emissions. It turns out the best way to reduce your carbon footprint with food isn’t to eat local – it’s to change what you eat. The transportation of food is a negligible amount of the total GHG emissions from our processed food system.

For most foods – and particularly the largest emitters – most GHG emissions result from land use change (shown in green), and from processes at the farm stage (brown). Farm-stage emissions include processes such as the application of fertilizers – both organic (“manure management”) and synthetic; and enteric fermentation (the production of methane in the stomachs of cattle). Combined, land use and farm-stage emissions account for more than 80% of the footprint for most foods.

Transport is a small contributor to emissions. For most food products, it accounts for less than 10%, and it’s much smaller for the largest GHG emitters. In beef from beef herds, it’s 0.5%.

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Thanks to Delaney!

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