Will eating locally grown foods reduce your carbon footprint?
It’s estimated that the average meal travels well over 1,200 miles by truck, ship and/or plane before it reaches your table. Locavores often cite “food miles” — that is, the distance food is shipped to market — as a reason to eat local.
Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, professors at Carnegie Mellon University, say that transportation accounts for only 11 percent of total greenhouse-gas emissions associated with transporting food, while 83 percent is related to production.
The best thing you can do is to cut back on consumption of red meat, which Weber and Matthews say is responsible for producing 150 percent more greenhouse gases than chicken or fish.
Choosing organic produce, grown locally in the most auspicious conditions — in a manner that requires less transport, less fertilizer, and no pesticides — does factor into the size of your carbon footprint and measurably benefits your health too. Even more so if you embrace a vegan lifestyle.
Curious to know how ecological you are living? Take the ecological footprint quiz to find out just how BIG your footprint is.