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Including Environmental Impact In Nutrition Labels


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Sweden Experiments With Adding Carbon Footprint To Nutrition Labels

"...Yet if the new food guidelines were religiously heeded, some experts say, Sweden could cut its emissions from food production by 20 to 50 percent. An estimated 25 percent of the emissions produced by people in industrialized nations can be traced to the food they eat..."

"...To arrive at numbers for their company’s first carbon dioxide labels, scientists at Lantmannen analyzed life cycles of 20 products. These take into account emissions generated by fertilizer, fuel for harvesting machinery, packaging and transport...They decided to examine one representative product in each category — say, pasta — rather than performing analyses for fusilli versus penne, or one brand versus another..."

(Nope, not a fan of this concept, but found it an interesting read.)

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This is where the limitations of carbon footprint, localism and organic hit the wall of reality.

Suppose the life cycle carbon footprint of an ingredient, say dingleberries, is higher when produced in paris France than in Paris Texas. Lets move the production to Texas and all will be good, right? But what happend to those pesky Pariaians of the french cariety? They will take their resources formerly devoted to dingleberry production and use them to make something else, say Epoisse. But then look, the greenhouse gasses from Epoisse production and the resultant CO2 expended by foodies everywhere extoling the wonders of said Epoisse are greather then the original green house gas output from the dingleberries. If this new, higher output is enough to offset the carbon savings, then we have done a diservice in moving to a world of more epoisse and Texan rather than Parisian dingleberries. I other words, we must look at the carbon footprint of one equilibrium vs another.

That is why I am in favor of a simple carbon tax {or Green house gas tax} as that way the market can lead us to global solutions of lower output of the taxed item while lableing and regulation tend to focus on local solutions of lowering local output of hte regulated item.

Thatis also why I am in favor of sustainability rather than local or organic, although both of the latter concepts have their place in sustainability. But a sustainable system will have links and supply chains that are neither local nor organic in some areas and in others local and organic will reign supreme!

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