Which meat has the lowest CO2 footprint?

Which foods have which CO2 footprint?

Mr Wirz, an organic tomato from Sicily that lies on German shelves in winter - what is it that makes it climate-friendly?

That is the popular belief. The longer the journey, the more CO2 is blown into the air. That is logical, but in practice it is never true. You have to look at each product individually in order to make a reasonable statement about the carbon footprint.

What does that mean?

In order to make a CO2 balance for food, the whole chain has to be considered. Cultivation, storage, transport and packaging. That is why it cannot be said in general that short transport routes are good for the climate. It always depends on the time.

How am I supposed to recognize that as a consumer?

It's old wisdom. Seasonal is always better than non-seasonal. Regional is better than national. However, as explained using the apple example, that depends on the point in time. Organic is usually better than conventional. And seasonal fresh is a hundred times better than seasonal from the glass house.

Speaking of the glass house. Organic cucumbers are grown in greenhouses on the Reichenau. What is the carbon footprint?

(laughs) A relatively big one. The more I heat, the more energy I need for production or storage, the worse my CO2 balance. You can also put it quite simply: tomatoes in winter, whether conventional or organic, have nothing to do with climate-friendliness. But one cannot expect or explain this to any consumer because no one wants to do without the food.

While we're on organic cucumbers. Why are everyone shrink-wrapped in the supermarket?

The trade has determined that, the organic industry would have liked to have it reversed. The cucumbers are shrink-wrapped so that there is no fraud. The sole purpose of this is to distinguish between organic cucumbers and conventional goods.

Which foods would I have to do without for the environment?

In principle, animal products always have a higher CO2 balance than vegetable products. Butter, beef and milk have the highest values. It doesn't matter whether it's organic or not, although organic always has a slightly lower greenhouse
has gas emission.

What other differences are there?

In order to be able to compare an organic product with a conventional one, the CO2 emissions are not sufficient as a value. You have to look at sustainability as a whole in order to capture the benefits of organic farming. In what way is the field tilled? Which fertilizers and pesticides are used? How does this affect biodiversity? Animal products are all about animal welfare.

Isn't the organic boom coming to an end at some point?

No, the market is far from saturated. More and more farms in agriculture are switching to ecological farming. In addition, the organic sector has missed regionality and is now increasingly getting involved in marketing.

To person

Axel Wirz has been working as a research assistant at the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Frankfurt since 2011. The focus of his work is on socio-economics with the topics of business administration, regionality and sustainability. The 60-year-old prepares studies and reports in these areas.

Published in the Economics section