Environmental impact

A lot is being discussed on nutritious and healthy foods.

Research on the environment implications of foods has also revealed that nutritious foods are also friendly for the environment. Which are the best and worst foods as regards their environmental impact?

Healthier foods and their role in environmental saving

A lot of research is ongoing in the field of foods and nutrition. But there is an increasing body of environmental enthusiasts that are studying the environmental influence of foods.

The planet is undergoing deterioration thanks to the uncontrolled human activities. Water and air are getting polluted.

And this is adversely affecting the climate. Global warming is taking place. This has a negative effect on health of all living creatures including animals.

Environmental impact
Global warming would destroy greenery and make lives worse (Source: Dreams time)

Attempts to halt this adverse impact on the planet are in full swing. People’s diet also affects the environment. Some foods are sustainable and do not add to the greenhouse gases and nitrogen in the air and water.

They have lesser carbon footprints and are therefore eco-friendly. Health of the environment also matters. Therefore, one should know which foods are best and which are worst as regards the environmental impact.

Environmental impact of foods: a mammoth analysis

Researchers analyzed 57000 good items that are on sale in the UK and Ireland for the influence they had on the surroundings. This study is published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It is the first study to determine the impact of prepared foods rather than individual foods. Michael Clark, an environmental scientist at the University of Oxford, UK that did the analysis states:

“What’s good for one is generally good for the other,”

“You don’t have to make a choice that’s good for the environment but might negatively impact your health.”

Environmental impact
Worst foods for environment (Source: UK times)

They developed an algorithm based on the ingredients in a food item and their quantities. Each food in the stores of the UK was accordingly given an environmental-impact score out of 100.

100 score was the worst. The analyzers considered greenhouse gas emissions as well as land use to reach the individual scores.

The results

The study revealed that foods containing beef and lamb such as ready to eat meat pies fared the worst. They had three times higher environmental impact scores compared to poultry.

The foods with least scores were sourced from plants and included fruits, vegetables, grains, breads, and beverages rich in sugar.

The study team compared the environmental impact with nutritional value of the foods, and found a direct association between the two. Therefore healthier foods also had a lower impact on the environment.

But there were a few exceptions. Nuts and seeds and sea foods are healthy but also have a not so good score.

Environmental impact
Good foods for environment (Source: Harvard Health)

Also, read Potato milk: the new milk substitute trend that has health and environmental benefits!

If this food rating scores are advertised widely, people could make right good choices for self and planet. Olivier Jolliet, an environmental-health specialist at the Technical University of Denmark in Kongens Lyngby says:

There are large differences between foods, and we can start making choices that really improve our health and environment in a substantial way,”

“This sort of study can help us find our way there.”