The Carbon Footprint of Canada's Food Guide

Title: The Carbon Footprint of Canada's Food Guide
Authors: Yegna, Shwetha
Date: 2017-08-14
Abstract: The current version of Canada’s Food Guide was last updated in 2007 and helps individuals choose foods that improve health, meet nutrient needs, and reduce risk of nutrition-related chronic (long-term) diseases and conditions. Canada’s Food Guide is currently being revised to better fit the needs of different Canadian lifestyles. However, it is still only being looked at from a health standpoint. The sustainability of our food choices is left absent from the old and currently being updated guide. With the impacts of climate change increasingly important and visible, growing exponentially, it is vital to recognize that accounting for emissions related to dietary choices and (especially animal) agriculture could be part of decisions to eat more sustainably. Thus, my research attempts to determine the carbon footprint of the Canada’s Food Guide based on the recommended serving size for males and females aged 19-50. A simple model was created using a food emissions calculator as the basis. The end user can observe the carbon footprints of many food items and manipulate the model to determine what their carbon footprint is or what the carbon footprint of certain types of diets are. The results show ‘Grain Products’ as having the largest contribution to emissions merely because of a high recommended serving size. ‘Meat & Alternatives’ has the highest contribution to emissions per serving when compared with the other food groups. Models for diets that reduced or eliminated animal-based products within the Food Guide’s daily serving recommendations substantially reduced the carbon footprint of a Canadian diet. Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors of greenhouse gas emissions posing many threats to the environment. As a result, several countries now promote plant-based diets in their national food guides. Decreasing meat-intake will lower one’s carbon footprint, protect the environment and provide many health benefits as well. Thus, it is argued that Canada should move in this direction as well if we are to protect against the impacts of climate change.
CollectionInstitut de l’environnement - mémoires // Institute of the Environment - Research Papers