Fredericksburg SHINES

Leading the Way in Sustainability

Rethinking Our Food (11 Numbers You Won’t See on your Grocery Receipt)

Shopping at a local farmers' market not only ensures the freshness of your food, but it reduces carbon emissions and sends 100 percent of the money directly back to the farmer.

The surprising affect food choices have on your world

You know your food choices affect your health, but did you know they affect the health of the planet? From the way ingredients are grown, to the type of packaging, the distance the food travels to your plate, and the method of disposal, everything you consume leaves a mark on the delicate ecosystem. Unfortunately, the numbers that communicate that impact cannot be found on packaging or grocery receipts. That is why we have put together a few facts, with 11 startling numbers, to get you thinking about the environment and the food you eat.

17  Million Barrels of oil required to make plastic water bottles for Americans each year.1
8.5 Million Barrels of oil saved if we all refilled disposable bottles just once.If concerned about chemicals in your water, consider these facts:

  • The EPA regulates tap water more than the FDA regulates bottled water.
  • An Italian study shows chemicals transfer to the water, from a reused bottle (hand-washed), only after water has been in the bottle for nine months. Therefore, refilled water could be safer than factory sealed water that has sat on the shelf.1
1,500 Miles most food travels from farm to plate.2
10 Percent Amount of the food industry’s fossil fuel energy use that is actually used in the production of food. The other 90 percent goes to packaging, transportation and marketing, all of which can be reduced by buying local.2       
25 Cents Amount per each dollar Americans spend on conventional food that actually goes to the farmer.2       
16  Pounds The amount of grain it requires to make one pound of meat; the current way of raising livestock for consumption is much less efficient than simply eating the grain ourselves.3
$600 Yearly savings of one family, simply from eliminating food waste.4
3400  Metric  Tons Amount of carbon dioxide equivalent saved when methane from the waste of 1,000 cows is captured and used for energy. That is like taking 750 cars off the road.1       
1 pound The amount of beef you would have to abstain from eating each year to save more water than you would not showering for an entire year.5

These numbers may not be found on packaging or your grocery receipt, but ignoring them won’t make them go away. If each one of us takes steps to buy smarter, reuse more and waste less, then a substantial shift in how we treat our planet can occur. For more information on how to change your impact on the earth, explore  our Tips and Resources articles on your right side bar, or  contact us about a low-cost, personalized eco-consultation for your home or office.


1 Stec, Laura; Cordero, Eugene. Cool Cuisine. Gibbs Smith, 2008.
2 Allen, Terese. From Asparagus to Zucchini. Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, 1996; third edition, 2004.
3 “Eating Your Way to a Smaller ‘Ecological Footprint’.”
4 University of Arizona’s Bureau of Applied Research Anthropology study, 2004.
5 Robbins, John. The food revolution: how your diet can help save your life and our world. Conari Press; 2001.

contributed by  Aden Holasek  |  10/8/2009

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