Guide to Low-Carbon Eating | Seventh Generation
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Guide to Low-Carbon Eating

31 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

Raw FoodSensing growing public concern about the climate crisis, executives at PepsiCo, owner of the Tropicana juice brand, last year asked a simple question: How much carbon does a half gallon of orange juice add to the atmosphere?

The answer was about 3.75 pounds, the same as driving a car 3.75 miles. The bigger surprise, according to the project, is that the impact of getting OJ from grove to kitchen table doesn't come from transportation, but from growing the fruit in the first place. Just 22% of each half gallon's carbon dioxide emissions come from distribution, while production accounts for 60% of all emissions, over half of which can be traced to the use of nitrogen fertilizer.

The research highlights two important points we'd all be wise to consider: What we choose to eat has an enormous impact on our carbon footprint. And in most cases, where our food comes from isn't as important as the kinds of products that we choose to put in our shopping carts.

Food is an often overlooked component of our carbon footprints, but it's one to which we should pay attention. The average family uses almost as many resources staying fed as it does staying sheltered. The diet of the typical household generates about eight metric tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) each year or about twice the emissions of a car getting 25 mpg and driven 1,000 miles a month.

Though the average meal in the U.S. travels some 1,500 miles before it is served, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found that a full 83% of its GHG emissions come simply from growing and raising that food on the farm. Transportation accounts for only 11%, and transportation between the grower and the seller, which is the portion of the equation that's largely zeroed out by eating locally-produced foods, is responsible for a scant 4%.

Figures like these show that reducing the impacts of our diets isn't as clear cut as it might seem. So what's a concerned diner to do? Here's our advice:

  •     Reduce your consumption of red meat, which alone is responsible for 30% of our country's total food production-related GHG emissions.
  •     Cut back on dairy products, too, which account for another 18%.
  •     Focus your protein consumption on chicken, fish, and eggs, which together account for just 10% of food-related GHG emissions. Replacing red meat and dairy products with chicken, fish, or eggs for just one day a week, for example, would yield the equivalent of driving 760 fewer miles each year.
  •     Fill up on fruits and vegetables, which create just 11% of the GHGs on the nation's plate. Going vegetarian one day per week would be like driving 1,160 miles less per year.
  •     Buy locally-produced food whenever you can.
  •     Buy organic foods. Healthier organic soils are able to absorb and store far more carbon than chemically-treated soils. By some estimates, we could remove 580 billion pounds of carbon from the atmosphere simply by growing all our corn and soybeans organically.
  •     Watch your waste! Buy in bulk and avoid heavily packaged products. We can each prevent the release of 1,200 annual pounds of C02 simply by cutting our garbage output 10%. When it comes to cooking, prepare only what you'll actually eat and clean your plate. Save all your leftovers for other meals and throw out as little as possible.
  •     Similarly, skip the junk and snack foods, and other heavily processed products. These all take more energy to make than raw foods prepared at home.
  •     Buy fresh foods rather than frozen foods, which require ten times more energy to produce.
  •     Eat foods in season. Out-of-season foods transported from distant locales have much larger carbon footprints than those grown nearby. Can, dry, and freeze fruits and vegetables during local harvests so you can enjoy them all year round.
  •     If you buy non-local, assess the impact. Foods transported by ship have a far lower GHG footprint than those that are trucked or flown. So a Boston resident, for example, is better off drinking wine from France than California, while someone in St. Louis should opt for the West Coast choice. Non-local fresh foods like fruits and vegetables are likely to have been flown in while packaged foods from overseas will most likely have arrived by water.

Being mindful of strategies like these will lower your family's ecological footprint and make sure that what's for dinner is a big helping of positive change!

If you'd like to examine your diet's specific carbon footprint, there are a number of online calculators you can use. We like the one provided by the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, which looks at all aspects of our lifestyles. The Low Carbon Diet maintains a food-only calculator that's also useful. And though it's designed for U.K. residents only, the Food Carbon Footprint Calculator can also provide some helpful insights.

photo: Tiffany Washko

31
Comments

MichelleMcG picture
MichelleMcG
07/14/12
First of all, these comments are from 2009? Has this article been updated in the last 3 years? Secondly, I do not drink juice--it is a waste of time. Eat an orange--it's much better for you :) I also use a juicer for the real thing if a recipe calls for it.
Seventh Generation VT picture
Seventh Generation VT
08/28/09
Thank you for the suggestion to list sources. We will do this going forward.
wackiness picture
wackiness
08/27/09
I appreciate that you did the math or research on the statistics for this article. I think these articles would have a much stronger impact if you had a list or a link to a list of your sources. Especially for those of us in graduate school that are doing a dissertation on food safety issues and climate change.
GOforchange picture
GOforchange
03/02/09
I love the emotion given to the issues surrounding food. Yes, I personally agree that one of our main concerns is Monocultures vs. Polycultures and looking "forward" to smaller farming plots and urban farming. I was also interested in this post because I am looking for people to write a postcard to GOforChange.com telling us what small or large things you've done to lower your CO2 footprint. We will be posting all the postcards on the site. We hope this will amplify what people are up to and create a meaningful conversation around the issue in a visual way. Here's a <a href="http://www.goforchange.com/2009/02/26/try-postcarbon-to-soothe-your-eco-guilt/" target="_blank">direct link</a> in case you're interested. Thanks, Alyssa
angihoy picture
angihoy
03/01/09
The last time I looked at a carton of orange juice from Tropicana, it contained juices from Brazil!!! Are they trying to tell us that shipping orange juice from Brazil causes the same amount of damage as driving a car a few miles....WOW! Tropicana must have some great new peice of technology they are using in the shipping world.
ElaineVigneault picture
ElaineVigneault
02/28/09
Vegan protein sources: tempeh, tofu, seitan, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, quinoa, TVP, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, lima beans, veggie burgers, veggie dogs, black eyed peas, peanut butter, almond butter, soy milk, hemp milk, vegan protein powders, soy yogurt, fortified foods, amaranth, spirulina, chorella, split peas, whole wheat, even potatoes have protein! We can debate about how much protein you really need and whether or not you should seek out protein-rich foods, but there's no debate whatsoever that plenty of vegan protein-rich foods exist. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVuevsrVD6g" target="_blank">You are the solution.</a>
ElaineVigneault picture
ElaineVigneault
02/28/09
Here's my advice: * Reduce your consumption of meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. * Fill up on fruits and vegetables. * Buy locally-produced food whenever you can. Buy organic foods. * Watch your waste! * Skip the junk and snack foods, and other heavily processed products. * Buy fresh foods rather than canned or frozen foods, when you can. * Eat foods in season. * If you buy non-local, assess the impact. Not all that different from 7th Gen's advice :) <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33luqyxA8LQ" target="_blank">Live your values.</a>
ladenedge picture
ladenedge
02/27/09
Let's see. 550 lbs of meat per cow, 3 lbs of meat per broiler chicken, 1 lb of meat per hen, and let's say a pound per fish. Supposing we split our protein consumption equally between the three sources, that puts us at roughly 180 dead fish and (at 1:10 on chickens) about 65 dead chickens for each cow we would otherwise have eaten. With the new Seventh Generation (tm) diet, I can cause the death of nearly 250 times the number of animals as with my current, cow-centric diet! Perhaps in seven generations we can hope to bump that number up another order of magnitude!
jennmit picture
jennmit
02/27/09
vstross, The point I was trying to make is that animals do not have to be a drain on the farm, they are a CRITICAL part of a well run healthy farm. My grandparents were "truck-farmers" for their whole lives. Your beloved CSA is just a new spin on a very old idea. How trendy of you. They raised vegatables on a large scale to sell, and animals for their own table, selling the eggs and the extra meat as that was available. They did not have to buy fertilizer (organic or otherwise) to grow their crops, because they had plenty of composted chicken and cow manure and the pigs did a pretty good job of keeping the fallow fields tilled up too. The animal feed came from grain grown on their property (with the manure) and hay cut from the land set aside for that purpose. By contrast, my mom has always had a huge vegatable garden, no animals, and we never have been able to make enough compost from yard waste and vegatable scraps to fertilize it all. She always has to buy fertilizer or get manure from somewhere else to keep her garden growing. Animals are an integral part of a healthy farm, or even a kitchen garden. I am sorry if that offends you ideology, but it is a fact. One that you would do well to learn more about before you spout off on another rant about the self-righteous vegan diet. We all need to be taking more responsibility for what's on our plates, and in my opinion, that starts with learning how to grow it yourself instead of just buying it all and judging the people who produce it for how they do it. Funny thing about capitalism--if you don't like it, don't buy it, if nobody buys it, they won't sell it anymore.
mswhmtns picture
mswhmtns
02/27/09
I say this respectfully in response to vstross. First, you just don't get what I was saying. Enough on that. Second, I don't know where you are getting your information from from about farming but it is flawed in a huge way. You really don't know whats going on and if you are going to endeavor to teach about agriculture than you need to have your facts straight. I am sorry for you.
vstross picture
vstross
02/27/09
Jennmit: Ignorance is bliss. It's unfortunate that I allow the ego to run my typing at times. The tone of my response clearly affected the ability for you to absorb the content. Staying within the context of this article - talking about local food sources - I totally agree with you about the imports from Chile (albeit most of our Spinach here in the midwest comes from California). I would like to add though, that you're assuming I was promoting grocery-veganism versus bioregional-veganism (I made these terms up for purposes of brevity). We live in Cincinnati, and even here there's an enormous amount of locally grown food which most of our family's diet comes from (it's even cheaper than the grocery!). If I may rephrase my argument for you with less angst: Going local is the most important venture of our times. From food to personal care items, there is someone locally who makes just about anything you need (maybe not everything we WANT though :) ). One of the more exciting movements gaining ground now is the urban gardening movement. There is a very large group here called the "Locavores" and they are extremely active! The only problem I have with this is the animal husbandry. If you give an acre to a family in an urban area, the amount of food that can be produced within this acre to feed the local community is astounding. Utilizing permaculture and perennial crops, the maintenance is very low. Where we run into problems is when the family wants to raise animals on this land. The waste from the animals creates a bio-hazard (this was a major contributor to the black plague in Europe that killed millions of people), the resources required to keep them alive (food, water, medicine) now causes an overall negative yield from the land and the incentive to keep the plot in production is harder to realize. I agree that small-scale farms are "nice," but this brings me to the next point. Corporate farms DO use a lot of resources, and small farms ARE more sustainable. But that's not what I said. I said that corporate farms use less resources "per capita." Obviously per capita may need an explanation. This is a reference to the amount of resources used in order to produce one pound of beef or a dozen eggs or a gallon of milk. It takes a LOT more resources on a small farm per pound of beef or a dozen eggs, or gallon of milk, then it does in a corporate farm. Grass-fed beef and free-range chicken and rBGH-free dairy all requires more resources to produce and support throughout the supply chain. Think about the land required to feed and support free-range cattle, versus feed lots. If you eliminate the animal from the equation, you have free-range biodiversity and no feed lots polluting the Earth. You argue about monoculture, but are you aware that 75% of the food grown in this country goes to feed animals! Get rid of the animals and you make room for biodiversity. Have you lulled yourself back to sleep after reading <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fs%3Fie%3DUTF8%26x%3D0%26ref%255F%3Dnb%255Fss%255Fb%26y%3D0%26field-keywords%3DMichael%2520Pollan%26url%3Dsearch-alias%253Dstripbooks&tag=seventgenera-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=390957" target="_blank">Michael Pollan</a><img src="https://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=seventgenera-20&l=ur2&o=1" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />'s book by convincing yourself that vegans only eat soy and corn? Other than meat, that's pretty much all non-vegatarians eat. Corn and soy are used in almost all the products the average American eats. Oh yeah, and what do you think John Q Farmer is feeding his animals? It's either "other animals" or corn and/or soy (among other monoculture crops). libushe: I am not a militant vegan! Most of the time, my stance is, "There is no one right way to live." This is of course coined from Daniel Quinn's "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0553375407?ie=UTF8&tag=seventgenera-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0553375407" target="_blank">Ishmael</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=seventgenera-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0553375407" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />" novels. With this particular issue however, I often get activated because the American Dream is a falsehood. This is similar to celebrity status. We all see it romanticized in movies and stories, but it just doesn't exist anymore as a viable option for the mainstream to be "wanting." Urban and backyard gardening, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and meat as a side-dish versus a main-dish are the new food-related paradigms. The days of sprawl and rural runaways are coming to an end. This of course is in no way promoting veganism. However there needs to be a strong focus on the big picture, and it doesn't need to be an all or nothing venture. Going Vegan for one day a week changes your perspective and causes a person to realize just how much animal they eat. I agree with you that my original rant would do more to turn away a flesh-eater than to convert one. The aim of my response was not to convince people to be vegan, it was to respond to the farmer who asked for responses about his promotion of Homesteading versus Veganism. otakemiyasen: You do realize that the middle class American is not the majority... right?
libushe picture
libushe
02/27/09
I have been a vegetarian for most of my life. Even as a baby my mother said I hated the taste of meat. As I grew older I couldn't stand the thought of eating an animal. It annoys and frustrates me to see this kind of self-righteous veganism that I am reading on some of these comments. Really, you guys remind me of the religious zealots who go door-to-door trying to sell their religion lest we all go to hell. You are right we are wrong and you insist upon telling us at every chance you get. You are obviously not winning anyone over here so it's ridiculous to keep trying... If they're going to come then they will come at their own pace... And there's a good chance that many of them never will.
otakemiyasen picture
otakemiyasen
02/26/09
Well, I hope you read further down than the person who "let you have it" (and didn't carefully read your post, either). I don't think that doing things "the old-fashioned way" is necessarily going backward. One could argue that organic farming is "backward" as well. Your complementary systems of management bring to mind the elegant Polyface Farm (as urged by others, see Michael Pollan's must-read "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143038583?ie=UTF8&tag=seventgenera-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0143038583" target="_blank">The Omnivore's Dilemma</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=seventgenera-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0143038583" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />"). It sounds like you are running a balanced, earth-friendly operation -- AND living the American dream. Oh, shame on you! Anyone criticizing that runs the risk of being accused of munching on sour grapes. I'm not willing to argue whether "industrial agriculture" is a good or bad thing, because what's really at issue is monoculture agriculture, which is fraught with problems. BTW, tons of space is NOT needed. On my generous lot I have several fruit trees and a productive garden. I have raised a lamb (now miniature horses mow my lawn, although I won't be eating them). The farmer's market, my friend's eggs (whose small flock lives in the very middle of town, thank you very much), and a local, grassfed cow round things out nicely.
jennmit picture
jennmit
02/26/09
That yard raised chicken from 2 miles away tastes pretty good.
jennmit picture
jennmit
02/26/09
I would like to say "Thank You" to the farmer that posted and tried to explain why biodiversity on a farm actually is CRITICAL for sustainability of our farm lands. He has grasped a point that some of the rest of you don't seem to get. Monoculture (i.e. large corporate farms) that produces only one item, whether it is corn, or soybeans, or cattle is destroying our farm land. We desparately need to get back to the self-sustaining farm models of the past. We ALL need to take some responsibility for where and how our food is grown. Simply going vegan does not solve the problem, nor does simply going organic. The real answer lies in thinking about what the real cost of what you are eating is. That is what SG is trying to do with this list. THINK PEOPLE. Doesn't it make sense that a pound of organic spinach imported from Chile uses up more resources that a yard raised chicken you bought from a farmer that lives 2 miles from your house? As to the post that claims that corporate farms use less resources than small privately owned farms--you must not know much about how either system works. Yes, small diverse farms are more labor intensive, but a well run farm produces most of what it needs on property and requires little in the way of outside resources--that is sustainable by definition! Large corporate farms need everything from off property to grow their crops (plant or animal) and have huge retaining ponds for the toxic waste they generate. Not Sustainable. If you want to learn more about this read Michael Pollan's book, "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143038583?ie=UTF8&tag=seventgenera-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0143038583" target="_blank">The Omnivore's Dilemma</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=seventgenera-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0143038583" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />". And if you really want to eat local--do what I do...Grow as much of your food as possible yourself, and give the extras to your neighbors or your local food pantry.
vstross picture
vstross
02/26/09
"so, i do look forward to hearing comments on my ramblings." Since you're asking for it... :) Out of curiosity, have you ever sat back, looking over your prized American Dream acreage and thought to yourself, "If I eliminated the animals here, I would have a lot less work to do!" Or better yet, "If I was focusing only on produce production, I could run a CSA and support my local community?" You may already run a local CSA, but this still does not negate the following: I work with many local CSA operations and know many farmers. I tend to run into this same wall with all of them. How do you think that moving BACKWARDS will solve anything? Do you think you're the "new age" of sustainability? How do you think we got into this mess in the first place? There were scores of small farms supporting themselves and their communities all over the world. Going back to this is a very romantic idea - of course, it doesn't require any new thinking! However, it brings an ever increasing population which drives an ever increasing demand for food. This - in a nutshell - is where large-scale agriculture came from! What I can't seem to understand, is how none of you realize that you're using MORE resources by going backwards. Industrial agriculture methods are an evolution FROM what you're doing. They have found ways to do what you're doing that requires less resources per capita. You're going backwards and requiring MORE resources per capita. The more you toot your horn, the more people will want to "buy up some land and just provide for me and my own." Ummm... problem sir... there are 6.5 BILLION OF US! You could produce a LOT more food for yourselves and your local community by focusing only on produce. This promotes community (hence the term Community Supported Agriculture) and provides more food using less resources. Americans need to remove their heads from wherever they're stuck and wake up to the notion that it's not all about you! "and you vegans out there, don't be angry at the meat eaters. no one is angry at you for eating an all vegetable diet." Of course nobody is angry at us for eating an all vegetable diet! We're not eating YOU out of house and home! Smokers aren't angry at all the non-smokers breathing their toxic exhaust - but the non-smokers have just about had it with those ignorant to the fact that they're affecting not only themselves, but all those around them. Again.. it's about the big picture. There isn't enough land for everyone to have their own little animal factories. We need to be moving FORWARD. There is always resistance to change and there is always those who die by the wayside as those who live the change naturally evolve.
SWozniak picture
SWozniak
02/26/09
I stopped by Tropicana several years ago as the company supports conservative causes.
strosspub picture
strosspub
02/25/09
We are all obviously reading and commenting on this blog because we are all interested in living healthier and more sustainable lives. Mswhmtns has brought the discussion back to eating local. However, one of the main messages of the article is that 58% of the GHG emissions come from producing animals and animal products for food, regardless of whether they were produced locally or not. Transportation of the food only accounts for 11% of GHG emissions. The Carnegie Mellon report to which the article pointed reports their findings that "going vegan one day per week saved more emissions than eating locally grown food all year". So, I find it interesting that we're all for living more sustainably, but only if it fits into what we're already doing, or what we're already planning on doing in the near future, such as eating a more local diet. This is a noble and worthy cause, and if you're not attempting to eat more locally, then you should work towards that. But just because you can't fathom you or your family making the leap towards veganism, doesn't mean you should simply ignore that it is the most sustainable dietary choice, or that because it is so far away from the standard American diet that you should scold those who have brought it up. I agree that all of us are at different places on our path to living more sustainably, and that we all have to start somewhere, maybe not with all of us becoming vegan overnight. Those who have full time jobs and families probably don't have tons of time to research recipes and such for this kind of commitment. However, as stated above, you can save more emissions eating vegan one day per week than eating locally grown food year round. Start slow and experiment! The journey to living more in alignment with the earth should be a fun and rewarding process, and eating delicious vegan meals one day per week should be a satisfying experience. It will, at the very least, remind you that veggies make a good entree, not just a good side dish!
mswhmtns picture
mswhmtns
02/25/09
i do not know how we got this got to an argument about what is better or not better for you. i thought this was about energy and how much energy it takes to make food. my point is that it takes alot of energy to grow vegetable food and meat likewise. and if you are buying your vegan diet at grocery stores then you are contributing to the carbon emmissions as much as the manure piles etc on meat factories. when we buy oranges from florida and live in new hampshire we contibute to global warming because those oranges are shipped miles and miles using some sort of polluting fuel. even worse when we buy cherries from peru or plantains from mexico.my point is, keep it close to home. make the effort to grow your own or buy from local people. good for the purchasers, the farmers, the environment and the building of "community".and you vegans out there,don't be angry at the meat eaters. no one is angry at you for eating an all vegetable diet.
jlautner picture
jlautner
02/25/09
Listen up folks: it is not necessary to look for protein-rich foods. For any of us, including diabetics. Eat a whole-food plant-based diet and you'll get more than enough protein, with or without soy or other concentrated protein products. In fact, there is no benefit to getting too much protein. The vegans commenting here are right: it's better for the environment and it's better for you. Don't believe me? Take a look at what Dr. McDougall has done over the years - for those with heart, diabetic, cancer, other health problems. (<a href="http://www.drmcdougall.com" target="_blank">www.drmcdougall.com</a>) I have no connection with this organization, have simply been aware of the groundbreaking work done there - through diet - for over 30 years. And of course that isn't the only place you'll find this information. It is also not difficult to get rid of the animal products, especially now. Gradually or immediately. Why do we keep promoting what is clearly not good for us?? Just because some people might find it difficult to change? What kind of thinking is this?? I guess, a few years back, people might have been reluctant to suggest that their friends quit smoking because it's so hard. I'm so sick of hearing that it isn't realistic to stop eating animal products. How about this, then: eat a lot less of them. Is that unrealistic? Anyone can do that.
Sundavus picture
Sundavus
02/25/09
I'm glad this article mentioned the significant role nitrogen fertilizers play in emissions! To quote the article: "...production accounts for 60% of all emissions, over half of which can be traced to the use of nitrogen fertilizer." Agriculture as it's now practiced in the USA is a key polluter. That's why work done by The Land Institute and similar research organizations worldwide is so critical. For many, many years The Land Institute has been working to develop sustainable agriculture based on perennial grain crops -- created by crossing the annual grain crops used today with their perennial relatives -- in order to have grain crops that don't require nitrogen fertilizer, herbicides and annual cultivating (which slowly but surely decreases the level of soil in a field). The institute's founder, Wes Jackson, has won many awards, including a MacArthur Genius Grant, for the work he and his team are doing, and he's been featured in Smithsonian magazine as a person who makes a critical difference, but many people have never heard of Wes or the institute. Learn more about The Land Institute at <a href="http://www.landinstitute.org/vnews/display.v/SEC/About%20Us" target="_blank">this link</a>.
lilyspecialed picture
lilyspecialed
02/25/09
I was just thinking yesterday how I would love to be self sutaining as a family. My dream is to move to a farm and provide most of what my family needs. That is truly low-impact living. I am not vegan and could never see my family living that way. I do try to be as earth friendly as I can, I do not think the article was aimed at giving the ideal lifestyle choice. If you read it for what it is, it is informative, if you want to take drastic measures than I assume you are living the lifestyle that fits you already. Thank you all for your different opinions this is what makes our culture the diversity is.
cherryames727 picture
cherryames727
02/25/09
Thank you to the farmer who posted the above note! Vegan living might be an honorable and sustainable thing for some people, but it is not physically possible for everyone!!! I myself am highly hypoglycemic and if I don't get enough protein every day I get sick, cranky and can pass out. Also, I grew up in Chicago and my family is from the South and to paraphrase St. Paul... "everything in moderation is permissible." Why are we spending time being grumpy with others on this website when we should be out there encouraging others to do what they can in whatever baby steps they take. People who usually leap forward fall on their faces. Real change takes measured, steady, practiced steps. I see only honorable intentions in telling Mr. & Mrs. Average American (who is most likely overweight & flirting with diabetes and heart disease) to go vegetarian one day out of seven and give up red meat one day of seven. You have to start somewhere!!!
mswhmtns picture
mswhmtns
02/25/09
after reading all the comments i must reply. i am a farmer who raises goats, chickens for eggs and vegetables for local sales only and 2-3 pigs over 6 months for my own meat. i farm with draft mules and only on rare occasions must i use a tractor for hydraulics. no hydraulics in the mules. anyway, small scale production of animals for meat is not a problem in my opinion. ALL of the manure is either spread naturally out on the fields by the animals grazing or it is collected and composted in small piles and spread in the garden or on the pastures. the pasutres are lush and the animlas are healthy. this is done over 16 acres of pasture and 25 of forest. I feel our carbon footprint is quite small. we buy almost nothing from the grocery store and compost all our paper and food waste or feed the food waste to the pigs or chickens. cardboard and newspaper is used to mulch around fruit trees and bushes. On the other hand, buying vegetables from super markets-and this pertains to the person who commented on soy saying they find it hard to believe it is not green to eat soy-or the vegetables raised on factory farms is not green at all. i do not care if they are certified organic. anything grown on huge farms requires massive amounts of energy to get the job done. tractors are a NECCESSITY! huge amounts of fertilizer, organic or not, must be trucked to the farms and spread and then machinery is used to pick almost all products. there are tons of paper and wood used in crating and shipping. and factory meat farms are self explanatory. not to say cruel and sad places for animals to live their short lives. to me, the only answer is local growing and buying and the return of the world to living in small rural communities or finding a way to make urban and suburban places able to suppot agriculture. In CT there is a city that has a number of large greenhouses right smack dab in the middle of it. right now they are empty. my vison for them would be a couple of small chicken houses with yards to get manure and the eggs could be sold locally-chicken manure is very "hot" and not much is needed to provide the Nitrogen needed for growng vegetables- and vegetables growing ALL YEAR in these greenhouses. so, i do look forward to hearing comments on my ramblings.
trbooth picture
trbooth
02/25/09
This is a <a href="http://www.viddler.com/explore/micheleforan/videos/2/" target="_blank">direct link</a> (instead of a link to a list of videos).
jerilee picture
jerilee
02/25/09
I'm not only surprised but disappointed at the advice to ingest chicken, eggs, fish, red meat and dairy here. If we want to save the environment (and we do or we would not be on this blog site nor purchase Seventh Generation products to begin with) we need to eliminate animal sources from our diets. A vegan requires 1/6th of an acre and 300 gallons of water per day to sustain a diet whereas a carnivore requires 4,000+ gallons of water and 3.5 acres minimum for daily sustenance. That's not bringing in the greenhouse gasses into play here. As a vegan, I am truly looking out for seven generations beyond me. The list is long for how much better one's life can be - our own lives, the lives of those yet to be born, the lives of animals and of Mother Earth, by simply choosing to practice a non-animal based diet. We need not to reduce our consumption of red meat and dairy but eliminate the consumption. We need not to focus our protein consumption on other living beings and their 'products' but eliminate it altogether if we truly want to live for even 2 more generations, much less seven. Please rethink this and encourage people to work towards a healtier diet for everyone concerned. "Vegan - No Body Dies For Dinner" including Mother Earth.
trbooth picture
trbooth
02/25/09
...that we need to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions for fear of "global warming" please see this highly-praised <a href="http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=the%20great%20global%20warming%20swindle#" target="_blank">BBC documentary</a>.
Anjin picture
Anjin
02/25/09
Thanks for a very informative article. Seventh Generation accomplished exactly what it set out to do, which is provide a wide reader base with ways to reduce the carbon footprint at mealtimes. Regarding the outcry against the protein advice, I would suggest that this was, in fact, an article about sustainability, not about personal choices. Chicken and Fish are proven to be far more sustainable than cattle. Not all of us are vegetarians, and responsible farmers can raise those animals with relatively low impact. So, maybe use a different forum for promoting your personal agenda? Sure, a vegan household has a lower footprint than usual, and if you choose to do that, great! But not everyone does, and getting those folks to lower their carbon footprint is a huge first step, and writing angry notes isn't really going to help. Let's face it, the earth needs all the help we can get, and everyone becoming vegan isn't a terribly realistic goal at all.
MikeDC picture
MikeDC
02/25/09
You write: "Focus your protein consumption on chicken, fish, and eggs, which together account for just 10% of food-related GHG emissions." With all due respect, this is ludicrous advice. For the good of all life on our planet, all of us should focus our protein consumption on plants, not animals and animal products. Aside from the numerous health problems associated with eating animal protein, not to mention the ethical issue of caging, slaughtering, and eating other sentient beings, raising animals for food is unsustainable, no matter if it is beef, chicken, fish, or eggs. Conservation International estimates that a vegan household puts out 36 percent fewer tons of CO2 per year than does an omnivorous household. And while 4,200 gallons of water per day are needed for a carnivore’s diet, a vegan requires just 300 gallons. Additionally, "farming" animals pollutes the water supply and damages land and marine ecosystems. If you truly want to live sustainably, lean toward veganism. I am amazed that Seventh Generation, which preaches sustainability, would post a piece offering guidelines for sustainability that actually advocates an unsustainable diet.
kayote picture
kayote
02/25/09
You make an excellent point that how food is produced has a bigger impact than how far it traveled. Given that, I am very surprised that "buy local" is emphasized more in your list than "buy organic". Buying locally produced food that is produced with conventional means is not as sustainable than buying organically produced food that had to travel. Instead of worrying about how it traveled, it would be better to worry about how it was fertilized.
kaladron picture
kaladron
02/25/09
"Focus your protein consumption on chicken, fish, and eggs" Is soy really higher than those? That seems odd, and it would be nice to see your sources for that.