New Study Shows How Much Food Transport Contributes To Emissions

It's been understood for some time that food production and waste are one of the top contributors to greenhouse gasses. Researchers published a study in Nature which found that food systems create 35% of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. Meat production specifically causes 57% of those emissions. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are responsible for trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere and contributing to global warming (via EPA).

Ethical eaters have sought new ways to make their dining habits less impactful on the environment, and large-scale changes seem to be coming along as well. Fine dining restaurant Eleven Madison Park relaunched a meatless menu, to much controversy. Nature reports that 55% of industry leaders have shown increased interest in environmental stability, and business interests in regenerative farming spiked 138% between 2019 and 2021 (via Food Navigator).

A new study further proves how our eating habits affect the environment.

Buying local food can reduce emissions

New research from the University of Sydney shows that emissions from transportation are responsible for 19% of the total emissions related to food production, which is "equivalent to 6% of emissions from all sources." Researchers say that this new estimate "is up to seven times higher than previously estimated." For comparison to other sectors, researchers estimate that only seven percent of industry and utility emissions come from transportation.

Researchers say that richer countries like the United States, China, Japan, France, and Germany also contribute significantly more food transportation emissions than their less-wealthy counterparts. Despite accounting for about 13% of the population they make up 46% of these types of greenhouse gas emissions.

To combat this alarming data, researchers recommend that eaters opt to shop for local food as much as possible. Healthline recommends joining community supported agriculture (CSA), shopping at farmer's markets, or becoming a member at a local food co-op. The outlet says that in addition to reducing emissions, changing your shopping habits can also help create less waste from packaging, and supports a local economy.