Unravelling how the food you eat affects the environment can be tricky, which is why BBC Future has created a Foodprint Calculator to reveal how different choices change the impact you have.
When picking which groceries to put in our baskets, a number of considerations are likely to affect our choices – will it tickle our taste buds? How good is it for us? And how much does it cost? But increasingly, consumers are looking for foods that will lower their impact on the environment too.
The food we eat makes up a sizable portion of our individual carbon footprint – depending on where you live and what you dine on, it can account for between 10-30% of your household’s greenhouse gas emissions. The entire food system – which includes the production, packaging, transportation and disposal of everything we eat – accounts for 21-37% of all human-produced greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, our food could account for almost half of all carbon emissions released by human activity unless more steps are taken to reduce its environmental impact.
But one of the problems we face as consumers is knowing which foods have the least or greatest effect on our planet’s health. Unlike nutritional information that appear on the labels of most foods we buy, easy to read information about sustainability is largely absent.
This is why BBC Future has worked with VerveSearch and researchers at the University of Oxford to produce our Foodprint Calculator. It will allow you to input a selection of staple foods, along with the number of times you consume them in a week up to a maximum of seven, to find out what the environmental impact of your chosen diet might be. Crucially you can also choose a selection of alternative foods to see how changing your diet might alter your carbon emissions.
Try the calculator on the BBC Future website.