The Danish government is considering a move that would oblige food manufacturers and supermarkets to adopt labels rating the climate impact of food products. The label has a long way to go before it is ready to start appearing on boxes in stores, but once ready, it can be a powerful educational tool giving shoppers quick information on the environmental impact of their choices.

The proposal is supported by the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, which sees the idea as an opportunity to encourage the best choices for mitigating the effects of industrial farming on climate change, CNN reports. The livestock sector is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all of transportation combined, but this is a fact very few consumers are aware of. The impact of food is also influenced by factors such as how far the product traveled, what kind of pesticides were used, and how much water it took to produce.

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“Everyone knows that food production influences the climate, but if the rest of the world produced food the way we do in Denmark, the world would be a better place,” said Morten Høyer, director of the council.

Denmark has been working with the European Union for 10 years to develop a climate label. Unfortunately, the task does not seem to be simple. “It may be necessary to compare the climate effect of a product with how nutritious it is. A soda might only have a small impact on the climate, but it will not sustain you,” Høyer said.

Høyer also emphasized that the goal is to develop a label that is accurate and that it would appear not only on clearly highly impactful foods like meat but also on other products, including plant-based alternatives. “We must include every piece of information so products like plant-based substitutes for ground meat has information on the climate impact of the soy in the product which is produced in South America,” he said.

Because of how difficult it is to calculate the real climate impact of products, the development of the label is bound to be challenging – but the process itself is great news and will hopefully lead to the creation of an important and helpful tool for consumers.

If you’re interested in learning more about the environmental impact of your food choices, check out the Eat for the Planet book! 

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