Researchers in Sweden have designed a tool for comparing the environmental impacts of different plant foods. The tool is designed for interested consumers who want to know more about the environmental implications of these foods in their diets.
Using life-cycle analysis data for 90 plant foods, the Vego-guide considers the climate, biodiversity, water use and pesticide use impacts of each food. This information is used to generate a traffic light rating for each food, from orange (greatest negative impacts) to green star (least negative impacts).
The tool is currently in further development for application to the Swedish market, but we can expect to see similar tools becoming available worldwide as consumer desire to make food choices based on their environmental impacts increases.
Currently, the only nutritional consideration in the model is to group plant foods together based on their main role, e.g. carbohydrate source, protein source and so on. This is important, as the carbohydrate sources (such as pasta and potatoes) receive better Vego-guide ratings than fruits. Care must be taken to ensure that these higher ratings do not influence consumers to choose energy dense foods over nutrient dense foods, a choice that would be detrimental from nutrition and health perspectives.
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