Food Products Need Environmental Impact Labels, Says Study

Previous research has evaluated the environmental impact of food products such as fruits, wheat, or beef. But most food products contain various ingredients that affect elements that impact rotation and processing processes that are generally unknown; hence,e the importance of understanding the environmental footprint of all these steps.

“The goal is to have a simpler, more rigorous way to inform consumers about the tens of thousands of different items they can buy at a grocery store,” explained David Tilman, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a co-author. of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

What did they discover?

Analysis of more than 57,000 food products we consume daily revealed that beef and lamb have the most significant impact on the environment, with implications far exceeding those of other products at the higher end of the scale—Environmental effects, such as chicken, fish, shellfish, or nuts.

What are the foods with the most negligible environmental impact?

In contrast, plant-based foods such as rice or flatbread, as well as processed beverages such as sodasflatbreadsdrinks, ranked with the lowest level of impact among the food products evaluated in this study.

For the researchers, diets with less processed foods, in general, tend to be less harmful to the environment. Hence, dairy products or highly processed grains are at the opposite extreme.

“The healthiest diets we know of are variations on the classic Mediterranean diet, which has many servings of fruits and vegetables a day and whole grains,” Tilman says. “Whole grain has the advantage of having fiber, which helps slow down the rate at which starch turns into sugar.”

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