In European and American countries, many people are used to deciding whether to buy a certain food according to the heat meter on the package. Now, Swedes may need to be more cautious: read about carbon emissions.
Controlling greenhouse gases and starting from "eating" is a new environmental protection measure launched by the Swedish government this year.
Carbon emission label is quietly popular
According to the New York Times recently, Helena Berestren, a 37 year old Swede, found a sentence on the packaging box when she was shopping for oatmeal in the supermarket: "Climate Declaration: 0.87 kg CO2 per kg of product."
Although this sentence confused Berestron, millions of Swedes, including her, soon found that such declarations began to surround their lives. Many food for sale in supermarkets and menus on the tables of restaurants have quietly added a label listing the carbon dioxide emissions generated in each link of the production process.
Sweden's largest agricultural cooperative took the lead in piloting several types of food. Chicken, oatmeal, barley and macaroni must be labeled accurately before they can be sold.
Max, a Hamburger chain, noted carbon emissions next to each food on the menu. Richard Berrifosh, the manager, said that they also specially hired a consultant to calculate the company's carbon footprint. They found that 75% of the company's carbon emissions are generated by meat manufacturing.
Sales of environmentally friendly food in Sweden have risen by 20% since the label was put on.
Carrots are more environmentally friendly than tomatoes
The Swedish National Food Administration released a new version of its food guidelines this summer as part of efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The new guidelines advise people to eat more carrots and less cucumbers and tomatoes. Because compared with carrots, most of the latter two vegetables need to be planted in greenhouses, which is not conducive to environmental protection. It is also a good way to reduce emissions by replacing red meat (such as pigs, cattle and sheep) with chicken, because raising cattle will emit a lot of greenhouse gases.
"This is a new way of thinking for us," said Ulf Boman, director of the Nutrition Division of the State Food Administration. "In the past, we used to think that safety and nutrition are one thing, while the environment is another."
But to what extent can this change Swedes' eating habits? Borman said it is difficult because people tend to pay more attention to "what foods are healthier".
According to the New York Times, 25% of the carbon emissions in industrialized countries are caused by the food people eat. The carbon emissions of different foods during production and transportation vary greatly. Therefore, the emission reduction effect of changing the diet structure is no less than switching to low emission cars or throwing away the clothes dryer.
Swedish experts analyzed that if the new version of the food guidelines can be strictly implemented, Sweden will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in food production by 20% - 50%.
Will change the certification of "organic food"
Sweden was the first country to propose a balanced health and climate initiative. KRAV, the main organic certification agency in Northern Europe, also expressed its support for reducing emissions in "eating".
It plans to start from 2010 and stipulate that foods that want to obtain organic certification must use low-temperature chamber gas emission technology. In this way, most greenhouse potatoes can no longer be labeled as "organic food".
From 2010, every dairy farm in Northern Europe must have at least 70% of the feed from local sources. At present, most cheap bean feed is imported from Brazil, which not only damages the local rainforest, but also generates a large amount of greenhouse gases during transportation. It also advocates the use of biofuels for heating in greenhouses.