White People’s Diets Are Killing the Environment: Study

Hannah Sparks, New York Post, March 28, 2019

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Caucasian populations are disproportionately contributing to climate change through their eating habits, which uses up more food — and emits more greenhouse gases — than the typical diets of black and Latinx communities, according to a new report published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

Researchers tracked information from multiple databases to identify foods considered “environmentally intense” by requiring more precious resources such as water, land and energy to produce — and, as a result, releasing more greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide through production and distribution.

Potatoes, beef, apples and milk are some of the worst offenders.

“The food pipeline — which includes its production, distribution and waste — contributes significantly to climate change through the production of greenhouse gases and requires significant amounts of water and land, which also has environmental effects,” says Joe Bozeman, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who helped author the study.

The EPA {snip} data showed that whites produced an average of 680 kilograms of the CO2 each year, attributable to food and drink, whereas Latinx individuals produced 640 kilograms, and blacks 600.

They also found the diets of white people required 328,000 liters of water on average per year. Latinx used just 307,000 liters, and blacks 311,800. Both black and Latinx individuals used more land per capita with 1,770 and 1,710 square meters per year, respectively, than white people with just 1,550. Nevertheless, white people still made the greatest overall contribution to climate change.

“{snip} it’s very clear that whites are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of their food choices,” says Bozeman.

[Editor’s Note: The study “Overcoming climate change adaptation barriers: A study on food–energy–water impacts of the average American diet by demographic group” is available online here.]

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