Food Climate Research Network - Looking at the LCA of Food
The Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) joins the food industry, Government, universities and NGOs to find ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions coming from the food chain. This UK based research organization has a simple but informative website that explains its goals and tempts us with future publications, as yet not available. They are researching ways of reducing emissions all along the food chain (from agricultural to food processing, distribution, home storage, preparation and final waste management) all while taking a life cycle approach. Their ultimate goal is to reduce the food chain's burden on our fragile climate. Their research areas include meat and dairy, fruit and veggies, cereals and oilseeks, sugars and alcoholic beverages (which currently are lacking in the LCA department). Based on these findings they plan to, "develop a series of visions as to how a less greenhouse gas intensive food system might be achieved." We will be anxiously awaiting those visions. Their site has a great index of food LCA studies that summarize all kinds of results with varying perspectives, including one controversial German study from the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (Elmar H. Schlich and Ulla Fleissner, The Ecology of Scale: Assessment of Regional Energy Turnover and Comparison with Global Food, 2004) that questions the efficiency of small farmers, arguing that small farmers need more energy to produce and distribute their products than bigger farming units. It argues that ecological quality is mainly influenced by operational efficiency and not by the marketing distance itself. The site has a great LCA resource list for food related studies, so we will get started on finding the studies that FCRN quotes and reporting them back to you. Read TH's How to Green Your Food here. Image credit: King County Energy Plan.