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The Carbon Footprint of Food
Review: To Cut Global Warming, Swedes Study Their Plates, A series on Global Warming
Sweden is probably the world's leader in studying and implementing policies to reduce green-house gas emissions. It has set goals of eliminating fossil fuel use for electricity by 2020, and eliminating gasoline powered vehicles by 2030. Now, based on a new study showing that greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by more than 20% if people changed the way they eat, it has issued new food labeling guidelines for specific foods to include the carbon-dioxide content involved in the production of that food.
"New labels listing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of foods, from whole wheat pasta to fast food burgers, are appearing on some grocery items and restaurant menus around the country. People who live to eat might dismiss this as silly. But changing one's diet can be as effective in reducing emissions of climate-changing gases as changing the car one drives or doing away with the clothes dryer, scientific experts say."
Just as significantly, the Swedish Organic Certification Agency (KRAV) has decided to include carbon-dioxide emissions as one of their criteria for certification. This could eliminate some current organic products from future certification, such as greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers. In general, it is also well-established that cattle production produces far more carbon-dioxide per weight of meat than, for example, chicken.
"There are farmers who are happy and farmers who say they are being ruined," said Johan Cejie, manager of climate issues for KRAV."