Can You Eat Your Way to Carbon Neutrality?

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If you know me, you know I love food, so when I had the chance to write a term paper recommending actions which would counteract the climate changing effects of greenhouse gases it was an easy choice.  Many of you (Are there many of you?) are probably rolling your eyes now.  I know, I know, it’s an energy thing, right?  Fair enough, but an awful lot of energy goes into the production and transportation of food, so maybe the idea isn’t so far-fetched.

In the paper, I plan to lay out a blueprint for reducing the environmental impacts of our food systems.  I want to dig in from a systems-thinking perspective, weaving together the following topics in presenting a holistic view of a highly functioning food system.

  • Gardening
    • Physical exercise
    • Mental benefits of connecting with food
    • Composting
    • Water use
  • Food Waste
    • I saw a statistic yesterday which stated that 40% of all food in the U.S. ends up as waste.
    • Over-consumption
      • Massive food waste in the form of dangerous, unneeded calories
      • Obesity
      • Diabetes
  • Sustainable Seafood/Aquaculture
    • Benefits to ocean ecosystems
    • Health benefits
  • Moving down food chains
    • Order of magnitude difference in resources consumed by animals higher in the food chain
    • Health benefits
      • Lower fat
      • Lower calorie
      • Reduced mercury in seafood
  • Local vs. Organic
    • Community Supported Agriculture
    • Farmer’s Markets
    • USDA Organic “Organic Lite”
    • Deep Organic (Sustainable Agriculture)
    • Opportunities to meld each of these options into a framework that roots out obvious waste
  • The role of government
    • Educate consumers
    • Incentivize healthy eating
    • Incentivizing healthy living
    • Subsidizing:
      • Classes
      • Rain Barrels
      • Centralized composting and distribution
  • The role of the built environment
    • Food Deserts
    • Urban environments which promote exercise (Walking/Bicycling)
  • The role of business
    • Entering food deserts
    • Rethinking “Either/Or” choices (healthy vs. desired)
      • Working instead to give healthier choices across the board


  • Rising food costs
  • Rising price of oil

    I’ve read some great academic articles on most of the topics above, but would welcome recommendations.  I’d also like to know if you think I’m leaving any important topics out.  I’m really interested in putting together a comprehensive set of ideas, so I welcome your thoughts.  Please jump in on the conversation in the comments section below.

    These are the obvious thoughts that are coming to me at the moment.  I’d love to hear if you have any to share.  I don’t expect to knock out a city’s greenhouse gases through food alone, but I believe you could make a good dent in them and that the positive effects could reach far beyond the city limits.  Let me know if you agree.

    Thank you,