Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story about Sweden’s efforts to reduce the carbon emissions associated with the production of foods.
Some of the proposed new dietary guidelines, released over the summer, may seem startling to the uninitiated. They recommend that Swedes favor carrots over cucumbers and tomatoes, for example. (Unlike carrots, the latter two must be grown in heated greenhouses here, consuming energy.) They are not counseled to eat more fish, despite the health benefits, because Europe’s stocks are depleted. And somewhat less surprisingly, they are advised to substitute beans or chicken for red meat, in view of the heavy greenhouse gas emissions associated with raising cattle. “For consumers, it’s hard,” Mr. Bohman acknowledged. “You are getting environmental advice that you have to coordinate with, ‘How can I eat healthier?’ “
England seems to be following suit.
The Carbon Trust’s carbon-reduction label, launched two years ago, is well on its way to becoming a key symbol of a brand’s green credentials. The logo is likely to become even more significant following Tesco’s decision to calculate the carbon footprint of its milk, and display it on the 30m pints it sells every week. The symbol will now appear on products with an annual retail sales value of £1.4bn. For many, Tesco’s initiative is a potent symbol of green issues’ move toward the mainstream. The debate is shifting from brands questioning the necessity of the label to consumers questioning brands that fail to embrace it.
Despite polling showing American skepticism over global warming is on the rise (a recent Pew Research poll says the percentage of people surveyed who believe climate change is a very serious problem, has dropped from 44 percent last year to 35 percent) its safe to say carbon food labeling will most likely make an appearance in American grocery stores soon.