Foods That Cause The Most Climate Damage

The Natural Resources Defense Council recently released a report on food and how it contributes to climate-warming pollution in the United States. After analyzing 197 different foods, they released a list of the 10 worst climate-damaging foods.

10 & 9. Turkey & Chicken
Turkey and chicken have roughly the same carbon footprint at 5 kilos of emission per kilo of meat. However, as chicken is more popular in the U.S., it edges out turkey on the list by just a little. People eating less chicken in recent years has lead to a drop of per-capita emission linked to food.


8. Veal
Veal creates 7.8 kilos of carbon emissions per kilo of meat.

7. Pork
Pork creates 7.9 kilos of carbon emissions per kilo of meat.

6. Asparagus
Asparagus creates 8.9 kilos of carbon emissions per kilo consumed. One might wonder how a vegetable could create an emission this high. It is due to the air travel with which it is transported. Most of the asparagus eaten in the United States is flown from South America, and once imported has to be delivered by trucks. With the combined transport emissions, asparagus is very rough on the environment.


5. Cheese
Cheese creates 9.8 kilos of carbon emissions per kilogram produced. This is an generalization of commonly bought cheeses. However, cheeses produced abroad or need refrigerated transport may cause an even higher emission.

4. Shellfish
Shellfish creates 11.7 kilos of carbon emissions per kilogram produced.

3. Butter
Butter is the third worst food for the climate. Unfortunately, butter creates 12 kilograms of CO2 per kilo produced. Butter is the most damaging out off all the dairy products as there are several steps to produce it, such as pasteurizing, cooling, ripening, and churning. Many foods on this list have been consumed less and less by Americans, therefore, lessening its climate damage. That is not the case with butter. The Natural Resources Defense Council reports there has actually been an increase of butter consumed.


2. Lamb
Lamb creates 22.9 kilos of carbon emissions per kilogram consumed. The sustainability of meat production calls for lots of animal feed, which is mainly made of corn and soy. The synthetic fertilizer and manure used to grow these crops release lots of nitrous oxide into the air.

1. Beef
The worst food for the climate is beef. Beef produces a staggering 25.5 kilograms per kilogram consumed. Beef is considered the worst, like lamb, due to its feed. Furthermore, cows’ digestive system also create methane gas which 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

In conclusion, the Natural Resources Defense Council reports the best way to battle food CO2 emissions is to start eating less meat.