• By Cliff Mail

What are the emissions of my favourite foods?

How detailed should the calculator be? This was, and still is, one of our biggest challenges with our Carbon Calculator.

We decided that there needed to be a balance between; enough detail to give a reasonable assessment of household emissions but not so detailed that the data became a deterrent from completing the calculations.

Food is one of those areas where we had to make a few more compromises than we would have liked. We know that the calculator does need a few tweaks to allow each household to see the impact of more incremental changes in their food consumption. However, we still need to be careful not to make it too complex.

For those of you who are interested in delving in greater detail into the environmental impact of your food choices, Inge (from Carbon Neutral NZ Trust) has been scouring the web for a calculator that can do the job. She has found this food calculator on the BBC website.

The calculator is contained within an article that provides a lot of other useful information. When I took the calculator for a 'test drive', in the interests of getting a more helpful comparison, I selected daily consumption for a range of common

meats and beverages.

My results are shown in the two charts to the right. I could not find an option for sea harvested fish which seemed a little strange. However, a quick Google search suggested that the latter is quite challenging. It depends upon the species. The more fossil fuel burned in the pursuit of your catch the higher the emissions per kg will be.

Not only did the calculator provide me with the comparable emissions but also some other useful environmental information. For example: my annual milk consumption (a serve a day) required 45,733 litres of water to produce while my higher emissions daily glass of beer required 3,535 litres. The wine required 5,026 litres of water. On the meat front, the lamb required 14,733 m2 of land to produce, beef 8,094m2 and chicken 616m2.

The article and the calculator are worth a visit.

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