What are the environmental impacts of food and agriculture?
So first, food accounts for over a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Secondly, 94% of mammal biomass(excluding humans) is livestock. This means that of the 28,000 species evaluated to be threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red list, agriculture and aquaculture is listed as a threat for 24,000 of them.
Food, therefore, is at the heart of trying to tackle climate change, reducing water stress, pollution, restoring lands back to forests or grasslands and protecting the world's wildlife.
We know that we can reduce these impacts - both through dietary changes, by substituting some meat with plant-based alternatives and through technology advances.
“Eating Local” is one of the highest recommendations that people often hear. While it might make sense intuitively - after all, transport does lead to emissions - it is one of the most misguided pieces of advice.
Eating locally does have a significant impact if transportation of goods is considered a large part of the final carbon footprint - but for most foods, this is not the case.
You want to reduce the carbon footprint of your food? Focus on what you eat, not whether your food is local.
Animal-based foods tend to have a higher footprint than plant-based. Lamb and cheese both emit more than 20kg CO2-equivalents per kilogram. Poultry and pork have lower footprints but are still higher than most plant-based foods.
Whether you buy it from the farmer next door or from far away, it is not the location that makes the carbon footprint of your dinner, but the fact that it is beef.