The Double Pyramid or Why What You Eat Affects My Health (and Everyone Else’s)

Long-time readers will recall previous posts on the environmental impact of food production and how closely the societal root causes of the obesity epidemic may be linked to global warming (in more ways than one would think).

I now came across a most interesting and remarkably comprehensive and insightful analysis of the true environmental impact of our food environment.

This document, released by the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (yes, the pasta folks are involved in this), answers important questions on just how different the carbon footprint of preparing pasta depends on how much water you use to cook 500 g of pasta (assuming a ± 20% pasta/water variable ratio and 10 min cooking time).

Such, ‘light-hearted’ trivia aside, the report actually provides some amazing insights into the ‘field-to-fork’ impact of food production and how it relates to everything from environmental impact to economies of scale.

The centre piece of the report is The Double Food-Environmental Pyramid, where one pyramid represents the traditional food recommendations and the other once (upside down) represents the environmental impact of those foods.

As it turns out (not surprisingly perhaps), in general, the more recommended foods tend to have a lower impact on the environment that the foods recommended for a lower consumption.

Thus, the double pyramid exemplifies how the food pyramid actually meets two important goals -maintains people’s health and protects the environment. In other words, eating ‘healthy’ is not just good for you but also for the planet (this is somehow reminiscent of ‘passive smoking’ because suddenly what YOU eat affects MY environment and, therefore, MY health).

Rather than fascinate you with an incredible amount of highly interesting trivia in this report, I suggest you download the original document here for a most interesting Holiday read.

Buon appetito!

Edmonton, Alberta

p.s. Hat tip to Annette Anderwald for pointing me to this publication!