Food and climate change

I recently took out my book on how what we eat affects the climate to brush up and thought that I’d share some tips when I was at it.

To start off food is a very hard topic to write about. On the one hand I want to eat what’s best for my body (see my post here) and on the other hand I don’t want to damage the environment and the climate. The choices we make can have a large impact for example if you buy local Swedish salad it has released about 0.5kg carbon dioxide equivalents compared to 4.0 kg carbon dioxide equivalents from imported greenhouse grown salad.  Also how we get to the food store is important. If we drive there most choices in the actual store won’t make a difference. Food today is so cheap and available that we can have an unlimited choice of produce all year round. It’s therefore good to decide what items should be considered a luxury in our homes based on their climate impact.

Here are some tips on how to eat climate smart in Sweden:

  • Eat seasonally and locally
  • Limit rice and prawns
  • Limit imported fruit and vegetables during May-November when there are lots of Swedish choices to choose from
  • During the winter months supplement with organic imported fruits and vegetables and also frozen berries
  • See exotic fruits as a luxury
  • Minimize meat consumption
  • Sausage is a climate friendly choice
  • Locally grown root vegetables, beans and peas have very low climate impact
  • Herring is the best fish to eat otherwise fish should be avoided/limited
  • Mussles are a good choice
  • Avoid palm oil
  • It’s usually better from a climate perspective to choose local conventionally grown fruit and vegetables than imported organic ones (this needs to be assessed in each case though)
  • Walk och bike to the store, if using the car only do big shops or better yet order food online so the food comes straight from the warehouse
  • The packaging is responsible for about 30% of the emissions – minimize packaging.
  • Glass is good from a production perspective but is heavy. Buy local produce in glass containers
  • Paper packaging is the best alternative
  • Manufacturing aluminum cans is energy intensive
  • Plastic is a good alternative from a climate perspective (although I don’t use plastic for other reasons)
  • Minimize food waste (see my guide for tips)



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