Often we hear that sourcing food locally is the key to sustainability when it comes to catering. However, this oversimplification is not the case for most foods. The impact of transport, with the clear exception of airfreight, is actually often minimal.
You might be surprised to learn that for beef, the majority of CO2 emissions stem from the farm stage – transport only accounts for 2% of beef’s carbon footprint. Therefore, as is the case for many foods, reducing ‘food miles’ will have a minimal impact on reducing emissions. Likewise, UK produce grown out of season in hothouses can actually be as bad as airfreighted produce, emitting significantly more carbon than produce imported from overseas, grown in season and outdoors.
- 1kg Beef emits the equivalent of 60kg of carbon dioxide
- 1kg lamb emits the equivalent of 24kg of carbon dioxide
- 1kg Pork emits the equivalent of 7kg of carbon dioxide
- 1kg chicken emits the equivalent of 6kg of carbon dioxide
- 1kg of bananas from the Caribbean emits 700g of carbon dioxide
- 1kg of root vegetables is equivalent of 400g of carbon dioxide, 150 times less carbon-intensive than beef.
Clearly, the emphasis needs to be on what food is being eaten, not just where it comes from and as such allmanhall are implementing a carbon impact assessment tool to help school catering teams quantify precisely how much CO2 sites within their pupils’ meals.
Here are just a few things your school can be doing:
- Use carbon impact assessment technology for recipes and menus; this takes away some of the complexity for your catering team when it comes to measuring supply chain emissions – speak to the team at allmanhall for more details
- Change the dietary trend from more meat and dairy to less, which can also deliver significant cost reduction – take a look at these plant-based recipes and other lower emission ideas too, to inspire your menu design
- Appreciate what lies behind our food, to the same extent as how we consider quality, cost, and taste.
- Make vegetarian and vegan dishes delicious, inspiring, and tempting – again, take a look at these recipe ideas from allmanhall
- Buy and eat foods that enable a biodiverse agricultural system
- Eliminate airfreight when it comes to choosing what products to buy
- Reduce food waste and encourage more sustainable processes in catering
- Encourage your schools suppliers to adopt the Science Based Targets initiative to report on their supply chain emissions reductions – or work with a procurement partner, like allmanhall, who will do this on your behalf
- Get to understand your supply chains (not just the last mile supplier) and ensure you don’t fall into the ‘local is the answer’ trap.
We need to act with urgency. The most complex challenges will involve tackling the environmental impacts of our supply chains.
It is best to face this challenge early, as it moves from a nice to have to a need to have with impending legislation…
For this and more, take a look at https://allmanhall.co.uk