Knowledge for better food systems

Nutrition and ecological footprinting paper

Sustainable Food Consumption at a Sub-national Level: An Ecological Footprint, Nutritional and Economic Analysis, (Collins, Andrea and Fairchild, Ruth, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 9:1, 5 - 30).
Sustainable Food Consumption at a Sub-national Level: An Ecological Footprint, Nutritional and Economic Analysis, (Collins, Andrea and Fairchild, Ruth, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 9:1, 5 - 30). In this paper, the authors use an ecological footprint approach to assess the City of Cardiff’s food footprint, examine how it could be reduced and what the impacts on food spending and nutrition might be. They assign an ecological footprint to the range of foods that typify the average diet for a man living in Cardiff and then explore five modified versions of that diet. For each of the diets, they assess the effects on the ecological footprint, household spending, and nutrition. None of the diets represents a radical departure (in terms of palatability) from what might normally be consumed. Three of these diets entail substituting lower footprint foods for those with higher footprints (the severity of the substitutions varying by scenario); a fourth takes the same foods but makes them all organic, while a fifth looks at the implications of a vegetarian only diet. The study finds that a more or less nutritionally adequate diet can be achieved with a footprtint around 23% lower than the Cardiff average and would also be cheaper. An organic diet (where the content of the diet did not in substance from the standard diet could achieve the same environmental result but at greater cost (31% more). The vegetarian scenario reduced the footprint by only 8%, the cost by 15% and was no improvement from a nutritional perspective. This last conclusion is not surprising much of the meat content of the ‘average’ diet was replaced by cheese – all livestock products have a high GHG footprint and in any case the dairy and meat chains are inextricably linked. A couple of things might be worth noting. Ecological footprinting is not the same as life cycle analysis. An ecological footprint estimates the area of land required to support the consumption demands (for food, transport, housing etc) for a defined population, usually for one year. It does not directly measure GHG emissions. In addition, the paper does not make clear on what basis it judges the ecological footprint of organic food to be lower than non organic and recent research on the benefits of organic vs conventional does not necessarily reach that conclusion.
 

Add comment

Member input

Plain text

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.