Bananas often get a bad rap because they are not local. However, the excellent book entitled How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything describes three reasons why bananas actually have a low carbon footprint, especially when you consider how much nutrition they provide (lots of vitamins and fiber):
- They grow well in the climate where they are grown. Only natural sunlight is needed (no hothouse).
- They can be transported by boat, and they keep well on the journey, without refrigeration. Travel by boat costs only about 1% the footprint of flying.
- There is minimal packaging (they have their own!)
In addition, they don’t require refrigerated trucking, or in-store refrigeration. (See the Homemade Guacamole blog for more information on refrigerated trucking.)
Be sure to buy Fair Trade bananas, as there are justice and environmental issues associated with bananas.
Carbon footprint info:
Here is the ingredient-by-ingredient comparison for this recipe with a similar one (for two servings, blend the first four ingredients and layer with the granola):
|3 bananas (354 g)||237||Yogurt (354 g)||715|
|8 oz. strawberries||79||8 oz. strawberries||79|
|1/2 cup soymilk||28||1/2 cup 2% milk||165|
|2T flax seeds||15||2T flax seeds||15|
|½ cup granola||19||½ cup granola||19|
|Total||379 for 2 servings||Total||993 for 2 servings|
Sources for conversion factors: For the bananas, I used the value given in “How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything.” The book gives a value of 80 g CO2-equivalents for a banana, including shipping from the other side of the world. For the rest of the ingredients, I used the Heller and Keoleian analysis.
For comparison, two servings of an English muffin with one egg and 1 oz. cheese have a total footprint of 943 g CO2-equivalents.
For an extremely low carbon footprint breakfast, try a bowl of oatmeal with fruit. In fact, a recent article on the carbon footprint of food in the Washington Post (find it here) mentions oatmeal as a food that delivers a lot of nutrition for a small footprint. For example, two servings of a bowl of oatmeal (made with ½ cup of dry oats cooked up in water, and topped with 4 oz. strawberries, 1 T flax seeds, and ¼ cup soymilk) have a carbon footprint of 232 g CO2-equivalents.
Each time you switch out the highest carbon footprint breakfast described here for the lowest (2 servings) saves 761 g CO2-equivalents, which is the equivalent of a 3.4 mile drive! Put another way, each time you make a shift like this, it saves the emissions associated with burning a halogen bulb for 32 hours!
Enjoy! You can post your creations on the FB page, or on instagram with the hashtag #easymealsfortheplanet so we can see what you are up to!
Please follow the blog for more recipes!
Berners-Lee, Mike. How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything. Greystone Books. Find it here.
Heller, M.C. and G.A. Keoleian. 2014. Greenhouse gas emission estimates of U.S. dietary choices and food loss. Journal of Industrial Ecology.