Local vs. Meatless: Better Choice

A study discovers the climate impacts of food choices.


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Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have answered the question of whether locally sourced food or eating meat less often is better for the environment. The winner? Going veg. A 2008 study that resurfaced in the news this week analyzed the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production and distribution, and found that while food is transported thousands of miles, only 11 percent of a US household’s carbon footprint for food is from the transportation of that food; 83 percent is from growing and producing it and four percent is final delivery (from producer to store). Red meat is the worst of the bunch, requiring 150 times more energy to produce than even chicken or fish. “Thus,” the abstract states, “we suggest that a dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than ‘buying local.’”