Do you think about the carbon footprint of your holiday feasts?

As I've mentioned her before several times, I'm not a diehard locavore. But I do try to keep an eye on how far my food has travelled to get to me. Admittedly, many of my seasonings and such have travelled a long way, because I need my Japanese food and I'm here in the middle of Europe. For fresh produce and meats and things like that I do try to buy things that haven't travelled too far as much as I can. I think I've fairly typical in that respect these days.

Yesterday there was this news story from the UK about the carbon footprint of a typical Christmas dinner. It was picked up by several news outlets (e.g. here and here, indicating the interest in 'going green' I guess. That turkey dinner with cranberry sauce is supposed to "generate the equivalent of 20 kg of carbon dioxide emissions", according to researchers at the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science at the University of Manchester. The main culprit is cranberries, which are usually shipped from the U.S. and account for half of that carbon footprint.

I admit I had two opposing reactions to the story. My kneejerk reaction was to think "It's the holidays for goodness' sake. Let me just enjoy my dinner!" That was followed by a twinge of guilt, that I should be caring about the issue even if it is the holidays.

What do you think? Do you think how far your dried apricots have come (probably from Australia), or where your oranges and cloves are grown (around here cloves most likely come from China and oranges from Israel, Spain or the U.S.) Does the carbon footprint issue make you reconsider your holiday menus? Or do you set those concerns aside?

Me, I'm going halfway (as I usually do)...I do enjoy my far-travelled citrus fruit, since there aren't any fresh fruits growing in or near Switzerland now. But I think we may go with a glazed Swiss-grown ham for Christmas dinner. We'll pass on the cranberry sauce, and maybe pull out the red currants from our garden that we froze this summer.

Filed under:  ethics philosophy holidays

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You should check out an article in the December 9, 2007 NYT titled "If It's Fresh and Local, Is It Always Green" which challenges the notion that produce bought at a local farmer's market leaves less of a carbon footprint than produce shipped cross-country in a truck. What do I think? I think the fact that I sold my car this year and now walk/take public transportation to the grocery store far outweighs the carbon footprint issue with regard to our food purchases.

Yes I do agree Big Finn - when I see those SUVs parked around a farmer's market in the US for instance, it always makes me chuckle a bit. We don't have a car either (we just rent one when we really need it) and take public transportation...which I think reduces our carbon footprint as much or more than buying local.

Then again you and I live in a country where it's possible to rely on public transportation!

(and I'm so excited that Blocher was thrown out...totally off topic! :P)

I can't resist the one bag of cranberries a year, and I also fell prey to the Brotstrich I saw in Coop. On the other hand, I've been wondering about the impact of these seldom eaten foodstuffs vs that of the stuff I eat daily. Such as rice from Asia, or wheat from the US and Australia.

P.S. Ditto on CB!

In Switzerland is impossible to avoid imported food...I guess we can lessen our carbon footprint by taking advantage of the great public transportation.

(I can avoid the cranberries, but rice and things...hard to give that up for me! Not to mention spices, etc...)