By Shannon Mora
At some point today, you were probably daydreaming about what you will eat for dinner tonight. Imagine the savory smells dancing through the kitchen and meeting your nose. Picture the sound of your favorite food sizzling on the stove top. If you weren’t salivating before, I bet you are now! But, I will also bet that this innocent day-dream did not evoke a deep consideration about the farms your food comes from. In a society where food brings people together, it is surprising that there is a lack of understanding about where our food comes from. And more importantly, how we can improve our choices.
Let’s “break bread” with the reality about our food.
Misconceptions About Overall Agricultural Emissions
As children, we’ve all heard the mantra “eat your meat and vegetables to grow big and strong!”. But never, “eat sustainably, so that everyone can grow healthy and strong.” Whether you are a die hard meat lover or a ‘level 5 vegan’, your favorite dinner plate originated from a farm. So despite our food choices, we all contribute to climate change. In the book called The Sustainability Secret: Rethinking Our Diet to Transform the World, the authors found that the agricultural sector is actually responsible for 51% of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If this number is surprising to you, you are not alone.
Several studies cite agricultural emissions ranging from 18% to as low as 10% because key data points are often excluded or otherwise lumped into other separate categories. For example, transportation of agricultural commodities accounts for 11% of all food emissions. However, this number is usually blocked together with the transport sector, as opposed to agricultural emissions as a whole. Other datasets commonly neglect to factor in other processes such as manure management, electricity use, synthetic fertilizers, crop residue burning, enteric fermentation, clear cutting rainforest lands for grazing, and much more.
Not All Greenhouse Gases Are Equal
Another common misconception is that “all emissions are equal”, which is why most sustainability campaigns focus on energy usage. In an effort to fight climate change, folks generally put more emphasis on activities such as carpooling, recycling, and conserving electricity to combat CO2 emissions. However, little is spoken about the levels of nitrous oxide (N2O) or how to combat those emissions. Why is this factor important for calculating true food emissions? 65% of all anthropogenic N2O, a GHG that is 296 times worse for the atmosphere than CO2, is directly caused by agricultural practices, mainly from cattle manure.
Lowering Your Carbon Footprint
150 people are born every minute. Our growing population adds a considerable number of mouths to feed, on a planet that already holds 7.5 billion people. One easy and powerful decision we can all make as individuals to decrease our carbon footprint is to switch to a low carbon diet.
This does not mean sacrificing your favorite meal! It does mean we can make more educated choices when deciding what we want to eat and how much of it to purchase and consume regularly. By replacing all beef consumption with chicken for one year, your can reduce your carbon footprint by 882 lbs of CO2e. That’s equivalent to driving for 981 miles straight!
Making small choices to substitute carbon intensive foods will significantly lower your carbon footprint and thus, the global agricultural emissions.
Eliminating Your Carbon Footprint
In order to bring our emissions down to zero and call ourselves 100% sustainable eaters, we would somehow have to stop eating, become photosynthetic, and use the sunlight as fuel. Until science finds a way to make that happen for us, Carbon Credit Capital is dedicated to providing a real world, real time solution that anyone can participate in. Our solution is carbon credits.
Carbon credits allow a consumer to offset, or cancel out, all emissions (including N2O) associated with any product or service. Purchasing credits funds environmental projects around the world that are destroying, sequestering, or avoiding emissions that would have otherwise entered the atmosphere. Offsetting projects include the implementation of renewable energy farms, planting trees to restore carbon sinks, and much more. Carbon Credit Capital hand selects the projects they support based on their quality, the co-benefits for their surrounding communities, and only those that meet the strict requirements of vetted certification bodies.
We can’t stop eating, but we can start eating better.
Editor Note: CO2e is short for “Carbon dioxide equivalent”. It is a term for describing different greenhouse gases in a common unit. For any quantity and type of greenhouse gas, CO2e signifies the amount of CO2 which would have the equivalent global warming impact.