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Here are calculation explanations for a selection of cards in the Food category.

This category includes the greenhouse gas emissions from:

– Growing crops and raising animals, such as carbon dioxide emissions from tractors used on the farm, and methane from ruminants.

– Production of inputs used on the farm, such as production of fertilizers, pesticides, electricity and fossil fuels. 

– Production of animal feed.

– Energy use related to food processing, such as in dairies and mills.

– Transport of fertilizers, fossil fuels and feed.

– Transportation for imported food, and transportation of food to stores.

The greenhouse gas emissions from the following activities are not included:

– Manufacture of packaging materials for food. These emissions are generally small in relation to the emissions from food production. 

– Transportation of food from store to consumer. These emissions are not negligible, but are usually included in the transport sector rather than in the food sector.

– Energy use for cooking at home. These emissions are not negligible, but tend to be included in the residential sector rather than the food sector. 

– Production of infrastructure (such as roads for transportation), agricultural machinery and buildings.


Foods from cattle (beef, milk, cheese, butter, etc.) have a high climate impact for three reasons:

1. Cattle are ruminants that emit methane (unlike pigs and chickens). One distinctive characteristic of ruminants, like cows, sheep, and water buffalo, is their capacity to digest grass. This happens in the stomach with the help of special microorganisms that break down the cellulose in the grass. This produces methane, which is released when the animals breathe. For dairy products, methane emissions from cows’ feed digestion account for almost half of total emissions.

2. Cattle have a lower reproductive rate than pigs and chickens. A cow typically gives birth to only one calf per year, compared to a sow that has between 20 and 30 piglets per year, and a hen that lays several hundred eggs per year. 

3. Cattle have a lower feed conversion efficiency than other animal species. This means that relatively more feed is required to produce a certain amount of meat or milk, compared to other animal species. 

We have made as realistic assumptions as possible regarding transport distances and means of transport (truck / boat / train / airplane) in order to reflect real-life conditions as much as possible. For example, we have assumed that bananas are shipped by boat from South America, and that all milk is produced locally.

Transporting food is of course associated with a certain climate impact, but as long as the food is not transported by air, shipping usually accounts for a small part of the food’s climate impact. In general, what we eat matters much more than where the food is produced.