What Foods are the Most Efficient to Grow and Eat?

What Foods are the Most Efficient to Grow and Eat?

As consumers, we often focus on the nutritional differences of the foods we eat: these foods are more nutritious, these are less. But, what we often fail to factor in is the inputs required to make that more or less nutrition. What if that nutritious food required twice the amount of resources to produce? Is it still better for us and the planet? The answer to this and similar questions is often murky and dependent on your own personal health needs. However, many people would be surprised to see the vast differences in water required and CO2 produced in the growing of different crops. Here is the amount of water used (measured as litres per 100 calories of food produced) and CO2 emissions emitted (as measured by kilogram of CO2 per 100 calories of food produced) in the growing of 100 calories of certain foods.

  • 80% Ground Beef (180kg CO2, 625L Water): Popular for it's taste and protein content, ground beef is one of the most common sources of protein in the American diet
  • Chicken Breast (40kg CO2, 360L Water): Due to it's much lower price, Chicken is the most popular meat in the American diet. That can partially be attributed to the relatively small resources required to grow compared to meats like ground beef
  • Chicken Egg (32kg CO2, 230L Water): Eggs are a popular source of protein, especially for breakfast in the American diet. 
  • Chickpeas (2kg CO2, 35L Water): Chickpeas, popular in dishes like Fallafel and Hummus, are one of the tastiest beans around. They're packed with protein, and even though that contain slightly less protein than animal sources, the water and CO2 generated in their growing is exponentially less.
  • Lentils (1.5kg CO2, 50L Water): Similar to Chickpeas, Lentils require under 10% of the water to produce as the same amount (100 calories) of Ground Beef and produce less than 1% the amount of CO2.

This is one of the many reasons beans are great for you, and the planet too! For an easy way to incorporate beans into your diet, check out our full catalog of roasted bean snacks here.

Sources: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/ https://walmart.com/

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