The foods compared, and their ghg emissions:
- Regional plate
- WA apple, asparagus, potato; Alaska wild salmon
- GHG emissions = 2,102 grams CO2e
- Global plate
- New Zealand apple, Peruvian asparagus, Idaho potato, Norway farmed salmon
- GHG emissions = 3,083 grams CO2e
I decided to start playing with this number and try to calculate potential ghg reductions if this was applied to a segment of the whole state population for part of the year.
There are about 6.4 million people in WA state. The major assumptions for my calculations are that 20% of the population would eat a comparable plate of lower carbon food for half the year (182 days). These assumptions are further tied to carbon savings that are comparable with this plate of food. Why such variables? Well, the research is just not there to elaborate on this pressing issue. We absolutely have to do more of these calculations to understand where ghg reductions can occur, but in the meantime I am going to work with such estimates. I also understand that people are not going to eat this same meal for half the year, but I will assume that 20% of the people could eat a plate of food, or total food for the day, that has a comparable ghg savings.
From these parameters comes the notion that if 20% of WA state residents ate a similar plate of lower carbon food for half the year we could reduce our food carbon footprint by 228,534 Metric Tons CO2e per year (.23 MMT CO2e/yr).
Here is a screenshot of my spreadsheet (click for larger image):
These types of savings are no small potatoes. I am a member of the Agriculture Technical Working Group for WA State's Climate Advisory Team. A medium reduction goal is 0.1 to 1.0 MMTCO2e per year by 2020.
Items for further research:
- What are the ghg reductions for other regional products?
- What are the economic impacts of such a change in purchasing?
- Local multiplier work shows a strong positive gain.
- Impacts on this trade-dependent state less clear.