Blog Post Author: Shalini Nanayakkara | Posted by Juliana Campbell
How Is Climate-Friendliness Calculated?
UBC’s climate-friendly food label currently provides you with information on how much GHGs are emitted to produce the ingredients in your meal.
The Climate-Friendly Food Systems (CFFS) label is assigned for each menu item based on its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. This is calculated by summing up the GHG emission of each raw ingredient multiplied by their respective mass. We assign GHG emissions factors for ingredients according to their category in the Cool Food Calculator, which provides GHG emission data based on life-cycle assessments for major food categories.
Since production of food creates the most emissions, the GHG emission from the cooking process and food waste were not considered for this label pilot.
In future iterations, we are aiming to include more holistic measures of environmental and social impact beyond GHG emissions.
Interested in learning about more ways to think climate-friendly with your food? Check out these tips:
1. Eat more plant-based food. Eating a plant-based diet (i.e., where fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds take up most or all of your plate) is the most effective way in reducing food-related GHG emissions. Falafel wraps, tofu & veggie stir fry, dhal curry, and UBC Open Kitchen’s Southwest Bowl are some super popular delicious, healthy and climate-friendly plant-based foods you can make at home or order on campus.
Fun fact: a study in 2020 found that UBC Food Services had 46% plant-based meals! And they’re looking to add more. Check out the campus online menu Nutrislice to find your next plant-based meal on campus.
Find out how you can make easy and delicious plant-based meals here.
Worried about not getting enough protein by eating plant-based? Check out the infographic below to learn about how plant-based protein can measure up to meat-based protein.
Used with permission from UCLA Housing and UCLA Department of Community Health Sciences
1. Eat a variety of plant-based food. Plant-based ingredients are often delicious, nutritious, cheap, and staples in many cuisines around the world – just think of white rice and potatoes! Go beyond the usual by exploring the vast array of diverse plant-based ingredients like amaranth, seaweed, mung beans, quinoa, okra, flax seeds, and sprouted chickpeas.
Diversifying your plant consumption can help promote biodiversity in agriculture and preserve these crops for future generations. Learn more in the Future 50 Foods report by the World Wildlife Fund and Knorr.
2. Can’t give up meat? Eat more chicken, fish and eggs and less beef, lamb, cheese and milk. Beef and lamb (i.e., ruminant products) are consistently the most GHG-intensive to produce. Substitute these with less GHG-intensive meat options, such as chicken, sustainably sourced fish, and eggs.
Did you know that producing cheese and milk is often more harmful to the climate than chicken, fish and eggs? That’s because cows still need to be raised, and raising cows is quite intensive on resources.
Substitute cheese and milk with alternatives when you can. Check out this helpful UBC Food Services blog post on going lactose-free.
3. Eat local produce when it’s in season. For example, apples, apricots, beans, beets, and blackberries are all in season in July. Eating locally supports local food growers and our community, and eating locally with the seasons cuts heating and storage emissions. Check out what’s in season in BC all year around here.
4. Buy FairTrade, Ocean Wise, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and animal welfare certified products when possible. Those little labels on our food packaging matter! Buying products with certifications can help ensure that food growers are being fairly compensated, your fish is sustainably sourced, and our food is grown to benefit nature, people and animals.
On campus, UBC serves 100% Ocean Wise certified seafood products at UBC Food Services outlets and became Canada’s first FairTrade campus.
5. Think of composting as a last resort, before landfills. Did you know that, sadly, that over 58% of food produced in Canada is wasted? Our first instinct might be to compost food, but that shouldn’t be your go to method of preserving food waste.
Purchasing or preparing food only to throw it away and discarding “ugly” produce can be significant factors to this. Take only as much food as you need so the amount of food waste is reduced. If it’s in good condition, buy that wonky-looking pear – it doesn’t have to look perfect to taste good! If you have leftover food, consider storing it to eat later or share it with a friend if it’s in good condition.
Composting is a great way to give food waste a new life. By composting food, you are diverting waste to become nutrient-rich soil for new food to grow in. But in terms of saving energy, reducing food waste before it enters the compost is the way to go.
Learn more about food waste with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s food recovery pyramid.
6. Look for the Climate-Friendly Food Label when eating on campus. When on campus, try to eat more meals with the yellow and green climate-friendly food labels.
Food is something that we all share – it nourishes us, connects us to our loved ones and communities, and helps us celebrate our cultural heritages. Food also has a huge impact on our climate, environment, and social and economic wellbeing. It is important to protect the values we place in our food while also addressing the environmental impact and social inequities in our current food systems.
This project is supported by the SEEDS Sustainability Program, catalyzing student-led applied research to help advance climate action at UBC in partnership with UBC Food Services, UBC’s Climate-Friendly Food System (CFFS) Action Team, and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.