Meat Eater's Guide Reveals Carbon Footprint of Your Steak, Chicken, Cheese Platter

How is eating meat like driving? This handy graphic says it all.

Did you know that eating cheese is worse for the environment than eating pork? And eating fish is less eco-friendly than eating chicken? (Sorry, pescatarians and dairy-friendly vegetarians.) Learn more fun facts about the carbon footprint of your food in the Washington-based environmental research firm Environmental Working Group's new report, The Meat Eater's Guide.

According to the report, lamb, beef, and cheese generate the most greenhouse gases. For example, eating a four-ounce steak is equivalent to driving nearly seven miles. The most eco-friendly meat is said to be chicken, although it's unclear whether or not deep-frying it hurts its rating. The data was analyzed using cradle-to-grave life-cycle criteria, which assesses a product's environmental impact from raw materials through to disposal.

The good news? The report found that buying locally can significantly reduce the climate impact of vegetable production (10-30 percent). Unfortunately, for meat, the impact of sourcing ingredients from local farms versus conventional ones is only lowered by 1-3 percent. The culprit, of course, is methane, a greenhouse gas said to be 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Another culprit is uneaten food that ends up in landfills. The USDA says some 40 percent of fresh and frozen fish gets thrown out, 31 percent of turkey, 25 percent of pork, 16 percent of beef, and 12 percent of chicken.

It's something to think about next time you're feeling smug at the farmers' market.

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