Turns out that summer barbecue you’ve been looking forward to releases as much greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as a 60-mile car journey.
That’s according to a team of scientists from across the UK exploring the impact of food choices on the environment.
They’re aiming to shine a light on how consumer decision on diet – as well as new technologies – could help reduce global warming.
Led by the University of Manchester, the team brings together academics from food resilience programme N8 Agrifood and innovative technology solutions from the STFC Food Network+.
“Food contributes over 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions. As the barbecue season gets underway, people might like some food for thought about the impact of their choices on the environment,” said Lead scientist, Professor Sarah Bridle.
“Did you know for example that a 100g medium-sized beef burger releases enough greenhouses gases to fill more than 60 balloons? That’s equivalent to driving about 15 miles in a car. By switching to chicken you could reduce that to less than 15 balloons.
“Did you know that a portion of strawberries would release enough greenhouse gases to fill about five balloons, but this would rise to about 10 balloons on adding two tablespoons of cream, or to over 20 balloons if flown in out of season?
“And each bottle of beer causes emissions equivalent to about 10 balloons full of greenhouse gases.
“By making a few small changes to our diets such as swapping beef for chicken or a vegetarian alternative, a fizzy drink to tap water, a cheese sandwich to a peanut butter sandwich, or a fry-up breakfast to porridge we can make a significant impact.”
The group of scientists has calculated that a typical barbecue would release the equivalent of about 225 balloons of carbon dioxide per person, equivalent to each person driving 60 miles; whereas a lower emissions barbecue – where beef burgers were replaced with chicken – would emit approximately 125 balloons of greenhouse gases.
A vegan barbecue reduced the emissions again, causing the release of the equivalent of about 80 balloons of carbon dioxide for the whole meal, which corresponds to driving about 20 miles per person, and is less than half of the typical barbeque emissions.
The scientists’ work is being showcased this week at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London.
The ‘Take a Bite out of Climate Change’ exhibit aims to raise awareness of the innovative ways that cutting edge science is transforming food production.