Post #57:How big is your fin-print?

Provenance and sustainability should be words that matter not just for millennials, but for us all. Globally, we face the challenge of reconciling a growing and urbanising global population with a shrinkage of available resource. Almost everyone recognises the challenges implied by global warming. The size of one’s carbon footprint therefore matters increasingly.

Against this background, we were fascinated to come across an informative infographic that highlights why we need to think carefully about what we eat. The data highlight greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of food product incorporating seven factors spanning from farm (including fertiliser use and methane emissions) to fork (packaging, transportation etc). Unsurprisingly, vegetarian products have the lowest carbon footprints, with nuts, citrus fruits and apples ranking best.

However, among the more mainstream sources of protein consumed by most omnivores, it is abundantly clear that farmed fish such as salmon have the lowest relative carbon footprint/ fin-print. Per the data, the effective kilogram equivalent of carbon dioxide emissions per kilo of food product ranks as 5kg for salmon. This is ten times less than the figure for beef (60kg) and also markedly less than lamb (24kg) as well as superior to pork (7kg) and poultry (6kg). The bad news for anyone with a sweet tooth is that the figure of 19kg for chocolate is perhaps alarmingly high.

To return to the case for salmon (full disclosure: your author is a big fan of the fish), not only does it have a low carbon footprint, but it also has highly efficient to produce. Salmon has a higher protein retention ratio (i.e. how much animal food protein is produced per unit to feed the animal). In addition, it is also very healthy; high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B12 as well as iodine and selenium. So next time you’re tucking into your salmon steak, sushi or similar, consider, you’re not only being healthy but you’re also – somewhat – helping save the planet.


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