New lifecycle research—where food is tracked from its birth until it expires or is thrown away—from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden shows locally-produced vegetables fare best, while beef is the most climate-unfriendly menu item.
what to buy
Foods causing the least amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were mainly vegetarian, unprocessed and could be transported a long way by boat. Foods causing the greatest amount of GHG emissions included domestic beef, tropical fruit (because it is transported by plane) and domestic cheese. Mid-range foods included those of mixed vegetable/animal origin and highly processed or extensively transported items.
Buy mostly—or entirely—foods that are plant based, fresh or minimally processed and locally grown (within your own country, if not your region).
Farmers markets are ideal to help you teach the family about seasonal produce and the food can come at a cheaper cost. Organic options may also be available, which are better for the planet and probably for your health.
Plan your requirements and buy fresh produce on the day, if possible, to reduce waste. Buy non-perishables— such as cereals, grains and legumes— in bulk to save time and money.
Trip-chaining, when you can combine and incorporate more than one purpose for the trip, is a great way to visit a supermarket.
how to carry it home
Always have eco-friendly bags in your handbag or car boot, such as organic cotton (these fold up easily), jute or hemp bags, which you can re-use over and over again.
Prefer boxes or paper bags to plastic when you forget to bring your own.
You can place vegetable scraps in paper bags and throw them directly into a compost bin.
Avoid collecting hundreds of plastic bags. If you need to take some, re-use them to line rubbish bins. There is a way to feed the family without heating the planet. But it may require you to make some small adjustments that collectively translate to big results.