If you’ve ever felt guilty when willpower waned and gone with a side of fries instead of a salad, now is the time to rejoice.
Because you my friend, have been saving the planet one greasy fried potato at a time.
And your smug (read: skinny) best friend who always chooses the garden salad? She may be watching her figure, but she’s certainly not paying attention to her carbon footprint.
Because a new study has just shown that salad is three times worse than bacon for the environment.
Three times! All these years we’ve been getting our Cobb salad lettuce-bacon ratios completely wrong.
Bacon, who has had a rough year, must be feeling pretty good right about now.
Researchers found that fruit, vegetables, dairy, and seafood are more harmful to the environment because of their relative high resource uses and greenhouse gas emissions per calorie.
Carnegie Mellon University’s study looked at the changes in energy use, blue water footprint, and GHG emissions associated with US eating habits, and the results it, um, threw up were pretty surprising.
Professor Paul Fischbeck said, “Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon. Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.”
Foods deemed ‘healthier’ increased the environmental impact in all three categories – Energy use went up by a sizable 38 per cent, water use by 10 per cent, and GHG emissions by 6 per cent.
But before we start burning our broccoli, there are some other factors to consider.
Getting our weight under control and cutting down on the amount of calories we consume does have a positive effect on the environment. It also reduces the three types of environmental impact (energy, water, GHG’s).
So while we’re not about to start eating bacon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (even if you claim to have the environment’s best interest in mind), it’s probably important that we don’t eat salad for every meal either.
Like all things, balance is key.
According to Professor Fishbeck, “There’s a complex relationship between diet and the environment…What is good for us health-wise isn’t always what’s best for the environment. That’s important for public officials to know and for them to be cognizant of these tradeoffs as they develop or continue to develop dietary guidelines in the future.”
Based on this study, we’re going to call that Salad 1. Bacon 1.
Your move, science.