Good point, ELLENPRINCE49, about the shipping costs of beans and lentils, but you can breathe a bit easier knowing that the C-footprint of transporting these, even over very long distances, is small relative to the transport of meat, dairy, eggs and even fresh fruit and vegetables. Although beans and lentils do need to be maintained in certain conditions, these are less strict and less extreme (i.e. no need for freezing) than for many other foods, and they also keep longer so they can be shipped less frequently and in bulk quantities. Buying unprocessed dry beans further reduces the footprint because these are lighter to transport and don't require further imputs for cooking, preserving and canning.
The key point to remember about any statement about the C-footprint for any agricultural product, though, is that the final number depends heavily on the parameters of the Life Cycle Analysis for the product. Are they considering input costs such as fertilizer? Are they including the cost to deliver to third party sellers (like grocery stores) or just to major hubs? All of this will affect the percieved "green-ness" of a product.
I read an article last year (which I now can't find, of course) which showed that when the comprehensive life cycles of most foods are looked at, from a seed going in the ground or a livestock animal being born, to the food product arriving on your table, transport accounted for less than 20% of the total energy inputs. When you consider the energy inputs that would be required to, say, grow pulse crops like beans and lentils domestically within the UK vs. in countries whose climates are more suited, I would imagine it would still be "greener" to import these!
Clearly this article has got me thinking - great find Jo!
"I will run, until there's no one left to run. I will love, until there's no one else to love." - The Dears
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