Monday, August 18, 2008

Eat right and save the world

Your lunch might be causing global warming. Mine, too.

I’m not happy about this. I take the world’s climate crisis seriously. I recycle. I take a reusable bag to the grocery store. I try to find ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. And just when I thought I was doing my part to save the planet, I find out we’re supposed to be following a low-carbon diet -- not a low-carb diet.

It seems that two slices of pizza, a salad and a couple of cookies for dessert could send more than two pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions into the atmosphere. You’re probably thinking everyone knows that kind of meal isn’t good, right? But guess what: The results are about the same with the seasonal fruit, grilled vegetables and shrimp.

I just hope we don’t have to stop eating to save the world. I’m sure the folks behind don’t want that. They manage college cafeterias across the country. Nonetheless, they say the food system is responsible for one-third of the world’s greenhouse emissions. This includes fossil fuels burned to transport and process food, agricultural processes that emit nitrous oxide, and the ruminants of the world – those cud-chewing, hoofed animals like cows, goats, and sheep.

Apparently we’re supposed to avoid, or reduce our consumption, of these ruminants and their byproducts (meat, cheese, milk, etc.) because all ruminants naturally emit methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane also is released when food goes into a landfill instead of being composted, by the way.

So what can we do? Eat less, minimize waste, and take advantage of locally grown and seasonal foods, which apparently have the lowest carbon ratings. And, according to the web site, remember: “With every meal you eat, you have the power to reduce climate change.”

Imagine that. Writers spend a lot of time thinking about the impact of their words. I guess this kind of knowledge means we all should be thinking of the impact of our eating choices -- not just on ourselves, but on the world.

If you want to get an idea of whether some of your favorite foods might be hurting the atmosphere, click on the Low Carbon Diet Calculator. It’s so much fun moving the foods in and out of the frying pan that you might forget we're supposed to be eating to save the planet. But the results may be enough to get everyone to stop obsessing about carbs and start considering carbON, too.


ALittleGuitar said...

That carbon calculator said that a steak sandwich from Club Schmitz created the carbon equivalent of two 18-wheelers and a red Pontiac Firebird combined. Can that be right?

Pat Remick said...

Pretty scarey, huh?
I don't know if I can give up goat cheese. Maybe we can find some other way to offset this -- buy carbon food credits or something.. Although I hardly eat beef anymore, I'm not sure I can live with the idea of never eating another Five Guys Burger.

ALittleGuitar said...

Whoa! Where'd you get a Five Guys? That's my super-guilty pleasure. Have they spread to New England?

Pat Remick said...

Frank and I were the original customers nearly every Saturday at their first store next to Brenner's Bakery. When I went to the Web to check the new locations for our college move-in trip to DC I saw they're almost here -- in southern Mass -- and even in Texas AND Kansas, now, if you can believe it. Frank and I think they need to franchise to NH. Wanna invest?