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Sustainability And The American Diet Michelle Parenti, MS, RD, LD/N Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Diet Balance Nutrition & Wellness Educational www.dietbalance.net.

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Presentation on theme: "Sustainability And The American Diet Michelle Parenti, MS, RD, LD/N Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Diet Balance Nutrition & Wellness Educational www.dietbalance.net."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sustainability And The American Diet Michelle Parenti, MS, RD, LD/N Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Diet Balance Nutrition & Wellness Educational Michelle Parenti, MS, RD, LD/N Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Diet Balance Nutrition & Wellness Educational Slides reproduced with permission from Kate Geagan

2 2 2 Sources of U.S. GH Emissions 0 1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 5,000 6,000 7,000 8,000 Carbon dioxide Methane Nitrous oxide HFCs, PFCs, & SF U.S greenhouse gas emissions by gas Tg CO 2 Eq. SOURCE: Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: , USEPA #430-R

3 3 3 GHG in our food system Carbon dioxide Fossil fuel activities such as processing, production, transportation and storage Methane: 20x as potent Emitted by ruminant animals, food waste in landfills Nitrous oxide: 300x as potent Nitrogen-based fertilizers, agricultural practices HFCs: Large global warming potential Human activities, refrigeration, air conditioning

4 4 4 Today it takes between 7-10 fossil fuel calories to bring 1 food calorie to the American plate Energy consumed 10.2 quats Food energy available 1.4 quats Household storage & prep (3.25 quads) Commercial food service (9.675 quads) Food retail (o.377 quads) Packaging materials (0.678 quads) Processing industry (1.68 quads) Transportation (1.39 quads) Agricultural production (2.20 quads) Food energy we put in Food energy we get out Energy flow in the U.S. food system Energy per year in quads (1 x 10 BTU) SOURCE: Copyright 2000, Dr. Martin C. Heller, University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems

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6 6 Which is more responsible for global warming: your BMW or your Big Mac? Believe it or not, its the burger. – Bryan Walsh, Time/CNN SOURCE:

7 7 The average American diet creates 2.8 tons of CO2 emissions each year per person, which has now surpassed the 2.2 tons generated by the driving. Roughly 1/3 of all GHG emissions can be traced back to the food supply. The average American diet SOURCE: Eshel G and Martin P.A. Diet, energy and global warming. Earth Interactions. 2006: 10(9): Bon Appetit Management Company.

8 8 Change your diet. Change the planet. Feel fabulous. Consistent overlap between personal and planetary health What to consume How much to consume Food-related behaviors Conclusion: The intersectio of these issues falls squarely in the lap of or profession.

9 9 9 Connecting the dots: Why Americans have an SUV eating style Degree of meat/dairy intake vs. plant consumption Degree of highly processed foods Cold chain system Disposable dining culture Daily massive bottled beverage consumption Americans guzzle 60 million plastic bottles/day 100 million aluminum cans/day

10 10 Connecting the dots: Why Americans have an SUV eating style SOURCE: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Checking the food odometer: Comparing food miles for local versus conventional produce sales to Iowa institutions. Iowa State University, July 2003.Heller, M.C. and G.A. Keoleian (2000). Life Cycle-Based Sustainability Indicators for Assessment of the U.S. Food System (CSS00-04). High ratio of packaging to food Global supermarkets in a flat world The average food is traveling 1500 miles 800 million tons of food shipped around the world annually, a 400% increase since 1960s US food supply provides about 3800 calories pp/pd About 26% of edible food available is wasted at consumer level

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12 12 GHG emissions from food SOURCE: Weber CL, Matthews HS. Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States. Environ Sci Technol. 2008:42(10):

13 13 Why are cows so significant? It takes about 7 pounds of corn and 2500 gallons of H20 to put 1 pound on cattle Cows produce methane, which is 23x more warming that CO2 Growing plants: 2 fuel calories/1 calorie of food Growing animals: fossil fuel calories/1 calorie food Research from U.S. and Netherlands has found beef and dairy account for about 50% of a familys food footprint SOURCE: Geagan, K. Go Green Get Lean: Trim Your Waistline with the Ultimate Low Carbon Footprint Diet. New York: Rodale (2009).

14 14 Greener Pastures are Possible Grass-fed & Organic Production 2006 study finds it requires about 50% less fossil fuel energy than conventional grain systems Swedish study found organic beef raised on grass emits 40% fewer GHGs and consumes 85% less energy. Local helps reduce food miles Local Food Systems animal/plant production are re- coupled Bison (grassfed) Wild Game (venison, elk, fowl) Pimentel, Impacts of Organic Farming on the Efficiency of Energy Use in Agriculture: An Organic Center State of Science Review (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, The Organic Center, 2006). Cederberg, Intl J Life Cycle (2003) 8(6):

15 15 Plant foods: lean and green cuisine Most Least Vegan Vegetarian (lacto-ovo) Poultry Mean American (FAOSTAT 2005) Fish Red meat Plant based diets a cornerstone of energy efficient diets SOURCE: Eshel G and Martin P.A. Diet, energy and global warming. Earth Interactions. 2006: 10(9): A 2006 study rated energy efficiency of diets: Lean and green super foods: nuts, beans, soy

16 16 Plants and planetary health: Healthy in every sense Tuna: 17.2 Grain-fed beef: 16 Chicken: 5.5 Herring: 0.9 Milk: 4.8 Corn: 0.4 Soy: 0.24 Apple: 0.9 How many calories of fossil fuel are required to produce 1 calorie of food? SOURCE: Eshel and Martin 2006.

17 17 High-protein, low-carb diets use almost 2x the land SOURCE: Wilkins, J et al. Increasing Acres to Decrease Inches: Comparing the Agricultural Land Requirements of a Low-Carbohydrate, High Protein Diet with a MyPyramid Diet. J Hun Env Nutr. Vol 3(1) Researchers compared land required Amount of land to feed 15 million Americans on a LCHP diet: million acres Amount of land to feed 15 million Americans on USDA MP: 9.77 million acres

18 18 Impact of Diet on Resource Use: Seventh Day Adventist Study Comparison for vegetarian & non vegetarian diets from Adventist Health Study Input Ratio Water (L):2.9 Primary Energy (kJ) 2.5 Fertilizer (g)13 Pesticide (g)1.4 SOURCE: Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 89 (suppl): 1699S-703S.

19 19 Whats the dish on fish? Food chain is key Tuna, salmon Plant eating fish are planet friendly Tilapia, catfish, barramundi U.S. farm raised Fresh flown seafood is a splurge 10X as carbon intensive Lean and green super-foods Sardines, mackerel, anchovies

20 20 Get the Dish on Fish FishPhone: Send a text to with the message FISH in caps, followed by the name of the fish you want to know about. iPhone: Download directly to your iPhone or iPod touch. Free at Phone.aspx. Cell phone: Available for all mobile devices with an Internet connection at mobile.seafoodwatch.org. Log On: Download a seafood pocket guide specifically for your region: or Pocket Seafood Selector at

21 21 The Key to Success Lean and green super-foods are the foundation for weight loss, satiety fight inflammation and maximize health-at a winning cost Nuts/pistachios Beans and legumes Fruits and vegetables Whole grains/ancient grains

22 22 Produce unwrapped: Local or global? Shifting 1 day to plant foods (or even chicken and fish) reduces GHG emissions more than moving to an all local diet of mostly beef Local and regional food networks As much as you can, to the extent you can SOURCE: Weber CL, Matthews HS. Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States. Environ Sci Technol. 2008:42(10): Keep it local, preferably organic!

23 23 Produce Unwrapped: Organic or Conventional? Need to consider: Mode of transport, shipping distance, packaging SOURCE: N.El-hage Scialabba and C. Hattam, eds., Organic Agriculture, Environment and Food Security (Rome: UN FAO, 2002).The Rodale Institute Organic is greener Organic production uses about % less fossil fuel than conventional systems because of the fossil fuel to manufacture, ship and apply fertilizers Organic farms act like a carbon sink, storing 2-3X more carbon

24 24 The fossil fuel density of food Calorie density Nutrient density New language for new realities: Fossil fuel density Whats your dietary lifestyle?

25 25 We can simplify for the consumer SOURCE: Courtesy of Natural News

26 26 Easy ways to start losing A 2008 study identified 4 key elements that would reap significant energy savings: Eating fewer calories Modern food system produces over 3500 calories pp per day Less meat, more plants Return to minimally processed foods/less junk food More local food in diet SOURCE: Pimentel David. Human Ecology 2008 (DOI: /s ).

27 27 Eating green another consumer benefit A more cost-effective way to eat Plant proteins cost less than animal proteins Nutrient to cost/value of choosing one ingredient foods Reduce our reliance on a convenience food and fast food culture Sipping cleanly and cheaply Moving back to the kitchen from the drive-thru Taking less, wasting less

28 28 Are You Ready to Change YOUR Dietary Lifestyle?


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