Food

The carbon footprint of food


The carbon footprint of food is the greenhouse gas emissions produced by growing, rearing, farming, processing, transporting, storing, cooking and disposing of the food we eat. Throughout any food’s lifecycle different greenhouse gases may be emitted, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, each with a greater or lesser ability to trap heat in the atmosphere.

 

Carbon emissions from food account for as much as a quarter of all human carbon emissions. If the effect of deforestation to make space for farmland is included, food contributes over 30% to our individual carbon footprint.

 

In the UK just under half of our food carbon footprint comes from producing food, about 25% from processing, 20% from transport and 10% from packaging. We can achieve big reductions in our personal carbon footprint by changing our diet, while helping to reduce pollution, preserve the environment and slow global warming. Many of these changes will also save money, improve our health and even keep us fit! Read our report on the carbon footprint of food.

Top tips for reducing your food carbon footprint

  1. Reduce the amount of meat (particularly red meat), fish and dairy produce in your diet.

  2. Choose seasonal food as much as you can, it won’t have clocked up CO2 through being transported, stored or produced in ‘hot-houses’

  3. Choose food that is produced locally or from the UK

  4. Avoid air-freighted food

  5. Try and grow some of your own salad, vegetables or fruit (even more local and seasonal!) Drinks

  6. Try use alternatives to single use glass bottles

  7. Only boil as much water as needed when you make a hot drink

  8. Don’t by bottled water!! The tap water in the UK is perfectly drinkable 

  9. Eliminate food waste (in the Western World about 25% of all food produced gets thrown away!)

  10. Buy the food with the least packaging

Local resources 

Church Farm Ardeley – village shop, 21st century responsible farming, community events and much more.


Triangle Community Garden – Hitchin’s own community garden.


Growing People – Social and theraputic horticulture for wellbeing, based at the Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living.


Letchworth District Gardeners Association – the large and active local gardening association with an excellent allotment shop.


Thornes Poultry Centre – for all your chicken-keeping needs and just up the road.