The widespread adaptation of healthier diets would significantly reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and food production, according to new research from the University of Minnesota and the University of Oxford. Increasingly, the food Americans eat comes from far away places. Shipping our food over long distances and processing it not only contributes to air and water pollution, but it also depletes the nutrients in the food. Dietary choice is a key determinant of both health outcomes and environmental impacts.
Human food systems play a key role in climate change and contribute globally to around a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. Given the magnitude of environmental and nutritional problems, solutions that can address both problems are desperately needed. Our research examines the interface between diet, health outcomes and environmental impacts. Without detailed information on the origin of these foods, it is difficult for consumers to choose alternative foods that achieve beneficial results for both health and the environment.