What is the Carbon Footprint of Food?

3 Planet-Friendly Habits to Shrink Your Foodprint!


Have you heard of a “foodprint?” Your foodprint is the carbon footprint of food that you eat. 

Our lives are centered around food. Think about it — we make money, eat, spend copious amounts of time at the grocery store, and continuously plan meals. How do we celebrate? With special dinners and dessert! Our lives revolve around food, and food plays a significant role in our carbon footprint. 

Today, we will explain how the carbon footprint of food is determined, how you can reduce it, and give you our secret to success! 

What is the Carbon Footprint of Food?

A person’s foodprint (the carbon footprint of food) is the total sum of the emissions involved in that food, including production, transportation, and storage. Essentially, it is what it takes to get that food from the farm into your belly. While food transportation and food storage each provide roughly 10% of the carbon footprint of food, the primary emission producer, at 80%, is production and growing of food. 

The Protein Foodprint

When looking at the carbon footprint of food, it is easy to see that food supply emissions are not equal. Beef makes up the majority of carbon emissions from US diets. 

Animal products produce the highest emissions; this is because animals are reared with carbon-intensive processes and create outsized emissions compared to non-animal proteins. 

If you are looking for a way to make a substantial change in your carbon foodprint, try one of these three simple planet-friendly shifts!

3 Ways to Reduce Your “Foodprint” with Less Decision Making Stress

When shopping, it is difficult to take the time to read each and every label to determine where the product came from and how its consumption affects the environment. That is why we recommend starting with these 3 easy actions to reduce your carbon footprint of food with little stress. 

  1. Swap a Regular Protein

Whether it is when eating out or cooking at home, you can make the conscious choice to swap your regular proteins for a more environmentally friendly alternative. Our Foodprint Mini-Guide includes a Protein Cheat sheet with more swap-up ideas! Here are a few popular swaps to start with:

  • Burger → Veggie burger
  • Steak → Chicken
  • Lamb → Pork
  • Ground beef → Refried beans
  1. Make a Repeatable Goal

For the burger-lovers it’s probably not realistic to commit to never eating a burger again. But making a small, repeatable goal can make it easier to both get started shrinking your foodprint and grow more tiny goals in the future. For example, you could have Meatless Monday or a Monday/Wednesday/Friday vegan lunch plan.

Looking for some more inspiration? Check out our FoodPrint Mini-Guide that supports a variety of diets!

The most important things to keep in mind? Make your repeatable goals small, specific, and interesting to you. 

  1. Automate Your Meals

Finally, an easy way to reach your goals is to subscribe to a meal kit service with light-meat or plant-based meals. It will show up on your doorstep, and you won’t even have to think about it!

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Purple Carrot specializes in vegan meals, offering only plant-based options; What’s extra special? Seasonal variety
  • Sun Basket offers meat, vegetarian, and vegan options; What’s extra special? Diet restriction-friendly + Kid-friendly
  • Green Chef offers meat, vegetarian, and vegan options; What’s extra special? Lifestyle options (Paleo, Keto. etc…)
  • Veg Ready specializes in vegan meals, offering only plant-based options; What’s extra special? Great for on the go

Secret Sauce to Simplify Shrinking Your Foodprint

When taking action to reduce our carbon footprint of food, the secret sauce is through tiny habit building over time. While having lofty altruistic goals is lovely, we must translate those external goals to internal motivation. If we don’t, we may end up getting overwhelmed or unmotivated. 

Take the time to center your daily priorities in your next planet-friendly steps. Ask yourself questions like: How does my day-to-day priority list align with planet-friendly living? How can I find things that will feel like a win to me now, and not just something generally good for the future? 

Maybe it’s better digestion, saving time, or feeling more energy throughout the day. Whatever will feel like a short-term, intrinsic goal is the best initial filter for choosing your next tiny habit to build. 

Beyond having a better filter to pick the best next thing to do, having strong intrinsic alignment with planet-friendly living can better motivate you when “saving the planet” isn’t your biggest priority for the day. Having in mind that you will have less gas, save money, or feel better throughout the day will keep you on track when your altruistic motivation is low

Shrinking your carbon footprint is a slow process. We encourage you to start small and build up over time so that you can recognize your progress and enjoy the meaningful results that feed our brains a serotonin boost when we accomplish a new goal.
Are you ready to start shifting your habits? Download our Foodprint Mini-Guide today!