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Village Green Corner -  Articles for you to use in your church magazine.

June Village Green Corner 2008

Do the maths on food!

By Ruth Jarman


The Son of Man came eating and drinking . Matthew 11:19

Can we follow Jesus in what we eat and drink? How much does what we eat help to cause climate change? Do the maths and see!

Our planet has a finite carbon-absorption capacity. To share emissions fairly and keep the earth abundant and beautiful we each need to emit less than 1.5 tonnes of CO2 -equivalent gases. How do your food-only emissions compare with this number?

If you feel challenged, take a look at the calculation again and see if there is one thing you can do this month to cut back significantly on the climate change contribution of your food.


Accounts for energy use in agriculture, fertilisers, food transport, processing, storage, retail and catering. Also includes methane and nitrous oxides from animal, animal wastes and agricultural soil, and notional credit for soil carbon take-up in organic farms.

Start with a base annual score of 2000kg (typical British diet, 2400 kcal/day, 38% animal-based); 2250kg (serious meat eaters, 50% animal diet); 1400kg (lacto-vegetarians) or 1000kg (vegans).  

If you only eat organically produced food subtract 50% from this score.

About 75% of UK food is imported and/or processed (including frozen & canned). If nearly all of your food is processed and/or imported add 100kg to your figure so far. But if very little of your food is processed and/or imported subtract 400kg.

About 25% of meals in the UK are eaten away from home. If you hardly ever eat in restaurants or canteens subtract 100kg from your figure so far. But if you eat half your meals in restaurants or canteens add 100kg.

To be really honest with yourself, if you exercise for ½ hour a day (which, of course, we all should be doing!), you need to add 8% to your score so far for the extra calories you are eating. Don't be deterred by this: if you are walking or cycling when you would otherwise be driving, the planet is still much better off!

Your food score box


This carbon calculator is from Quaker Green Action

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