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Best foods for a minimal impact on the greenhouse effect

The global picture of health, along with attitudes toward healthy eating are changing, and it's for the better. A hot topic that we can't avoid is the impact that the food we eat has on the environment, and subsequently on the climate change epidemic.

An analysis by the Environmental Working Group explains that by making more environmentally friendly food choices, you can make a big impact. According to a study published in the journal ‘Nature’, adopting a primarily plant-based diet could contribute to cutting food-related greenhouse gas emissions by more than half.

Their work concludes that plant foods emit far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than animal products, whilst also reporting the extent to which various foods contribute to the greenhouse gas effect in terms of how much carbon dioxide is released per kilogram consumed.

With this in mind, you can see the foods that are most effective and sustainable below: 

  1. Green peas = 0.49kg carbon per kg of peas consumed. They naturally fix nitrogen in soil. This reduces the need for fertilisers and helps maintain the soil’s nutrients.
  2. Lentils= 0.9kg carbon per kg of lentils consumed. Lentils come in several varieties. Green and brown lentils are great for making cold lentil salads, whilst red lentils do well in soup.
  3. Tomatoes = 1.1kg carbon per kg of tomatoes consumed. They are one of the easiest plants to grow at home; but whether you grow or buy them, they have countless uses.
  4. Dry Beans = 2kg carbon per kg of dry beans consumed. Dry beans are a great and affordable bulk food to keep in your pantry. After an overnight soak and rinse, they are ready to cook and use in soups, bean dips, on nachos, in chilli, or a three-bean salad.
  5. Tofu = 2kg carbon per kg of tofu consumed. Tofu is one of the most versatile plant proteins and comes in a range of soft and firm consistencies.
  6. Broccoli = 2kg carbon per kg of broccoli consumed. Broccoli is delicious both raw and cooked. It makes a nutritious snack at any time of day and an excellent side to just about any dish.
  7. Oranges = 2.1kg carbon per kg of oranges consumed. These fruits are extremely water-efficient. They require around half as much water to grow as bananas.
  8. Nuts = 2.3kg carbon per kg of nuts consumed. Nuts are another nutrient-dense food to keep on hand. They make a great snack food, but you can also use them to make nut milk, mix them into oatmeal, sprinkle them onto salads or casseroles, or use them to make dairy-free cheese.
  9. Rice = 2.7kg carbon per kg of rice consumed. Rice is a low-cost grain that complements many simple meals, such as stir-fries, curries, burritos, and cooked beans.
  10. Potatoes = 2.9kg carbon per kg of potatoes consumed. Potatoes are great mashed, roasted, or air fried. Leave the skin on for added nutrients.

If you'd like to learn more about Healthy Nibbles and the work we do to improve corporate health and wellbeing, in line with supporting sustainability, please contact us today