You soon may find yourself scrolling through the nutrition facts on a food item at the grocery store to find the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of that particular food. "170 caloris, hmmm, not bad - .87kg of CO2 per kg of product? Going to have to look elseshere." That's the scenario in Sweden right now as labels listing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of foods are appearing on some grocery items and restaurant menus around the country, The New York Times reports.
“We’re the first to do it, and it’s a new way of thinking for us,” said Ulf Bohman, head of the Nutrition Department at the Swedish National Food Administration, which was given the task last year of creating new food guidelines giving equal weight to climate and health. “We’re used to thinking about safety and nutrition as one thing and environmental as another.”
And this is far from a greenwashing ploy. According to the Times, 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, according to recent research here. And foods vary enormously in the emissions released in their production.
As suspected, this action has drawn many contractors, most notably some in the food industry who argue that it's confusing and could hurt their business. Does that sound like a familiar excuse?
The benefits of making people think about what they're eating, and what that action represents on a larger scale is obviously beneficial, but can anyone see this taking off in America? It's obvious that as a culture we value health considerably less than our European counterparts, and reports show that we value conservation and the environment even less. So if we can't even agree on simple issues of equality, responsible health coverage, and if global warming is real or not - how can we expect a consensus on food - arguably the most diverse topic in our culture. And help us all if anything like meatless Monday makes it's way to America.