Carbon Costing our Food

After a record summer of soaring temperatures in the UK, and the news this week telling us that one third of the whole country of Pakistan has been hit by flooding, affecting 34 million people, the need for drastic action to reverse climate change is more apparent and urgent than ever before.

Did you know that our global food system is responsible for more than a third of total greenhouse gas emissions? Agriculture and food production is the single biggest contributor to biodiversity loss, deforestation, drought, freshwater pollution and the collapse of aquatic wildlife. When it comes to what we can do as citizens in the face of climate and ecological crises, our food choices are at the heart.

With this in mind, REfUSE Restaurant night on 1st September was something a little different, thanks to a partnership with Durham County Council’s Low Carbon Economy Team and some funding from Sustain. We served up a menu created with food that would otherwise have been destined for landfill, and costed according to each dish’s carbon footprint.

For each menu option, the price reflected the impact of the ingredients in each dish: the carbon emissions were calculated, converted into car miles equivalent, and guests paid £1 per car mile. It meant that on top of the usual £5 booking fee, guests paid between £5.86 and £24.10, depending on what they ordered. We used this handy carbon calculator to work out the costs.

It was a great success – not only a delicious evening of food, but also sparking conversation by showing us the true cost of the food we eat. See pictures below…

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