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Impacts of home cooking methods and appliances on the GHG emissions of food

Abstract

Food is widely acknowledged as a major contributor to climate change but estimates of food-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions frequently consider supply chain stages only up to the farm gate or regional distribution centres. Here we estimate GHG emissions associated with different cooking methods and appliances in the UK. Data on current cooking practices were collected through a survey with more than 700 respondents. Our results reveal that home cooking accounts for as much as 61% of total emissions associated with specific foods, and that this can be substantially reduced through alternative, readily available cooking practices.

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Fig. 1: Total GHG emissions of various food items.
Fig. 2: GHG emissions of various cooking methods when applied to different food items in relation to their cooking times.

Data availability

All data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

This research activity was funded through multiple research grants from Research Councils UK, the University of Manchester, the University of Sheffield, the STFC Food Network+ and the HEFCE Catalyst-funded N8 AgriFood Resilience Programme with matched funding from the N8 group of universities. Specific named projects that funded this research include the STFC GCRF-funded project ‘Trends in greenhouse gas emissions from Brazilian foods using GGDOT’ (ST/S003320/1), the STFC-funded project ‘Piloting Zooniverse for food, health and sustainability citizen science’ (ST/T001410/1) and the STFC Food Network+ Awarded Scoping Project ‘Piloting Zooniverse to help us understand citizen food perceptions’. Funding was also supplied from Research England via the University of Sheffield QR Strategic Priorities Fund projects ‘Cooking as part of a sustainable food system—creating an wider evidence base for policy makers’ and ‘Food based citizen science in the UK as a policy tool’. This research project arose from the N8 AgriFood-funded project ‘Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open-source Toolkit (GGDOT) hacknights.’ X.S.R. was supported through Brunel University internal research England GCRF QR Fund. A.K. and C.A.M. were supported through University of Manchester GCRF QR Visiting Researcher Fellowships.

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A.F., X.S.R., S.B., R.B.L. and C.R. conceptualized the study. A.F. provided data analysis. A.F., X.S.R., S.B., A.M.R.G.K., J.T.d.S., C.A.M., F.R., R.B.L. and C.R. developed the methodology. A.F. ran the modelling and conducted the formal analysis. A.F. and J.C. developed the visualizations and figures. A.F. provided the writing (original draft) with X.S.R., S.B., A.M.R.G.K., J.T.d.S., C.A.M., F.R., R.B.L., J.C. and C.R. providing additional writing, review and editing. X.S.R. and C.R. developed the survey, and conducted the data collection and data linking (as part of a wider team). X.S.R., S.B., J.T.d.S., R.B.L. and C.R. provided funding acquisition. X.S.R., S.B. and C.R. provided project administration and team supervision.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Angelina Frankowska.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Food thanks N. Rao, P. Behrens and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Text 1, Figs. 1–4, Tables 1 and 2.

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Data

Cooking impacts per kg raw; cooking impacts per kg cooked.

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Frankowska, A., Rivera, X.S., Bridle, S. et al. Impacts of home cooking methods and appliances on the GHG emissions of food. Nat Food 1, 787–791 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-020-00200-w

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