Buying Local Food Isn’t The Most Effective Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

I’ve repeatedly complained that the talk about global warming and environmentalism has been oddly silent about vegetarianism as an option, even though it’s one of the single most effective ways to reduce carbon footprint. As more evidence of this, see Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2008, 42, 3508–3513, which argues that reducing meat consumption does a lot more to reduce emissions than jumping on the “local food” bandwagon. The punchline (from the abstract):

dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than “buying local.” Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food