Food's Carbon Footprint

Information about how food production affects global warming and climate change.


Understanding Food's Carbon Footprint

Duke Fuqua Insights: Underestimating Food’s Carbon Footprint

Professor Rick Larrick explains how we underestimate the environmental impact of the food we eat, and how small behavioral nudges can make a big difference.

Most people don’t realize how much food production contributes to climate change – especially meat.

"Beef is the SUV of food," said Rick Larrick, a professor of management and organizations at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

The massive carbon footprint of red meat means that even consuming slightly less of it – substituting something else for beef once a week, for instance – can make a huge difference to the environment.

“It’s more about slight changes, rather than all or nothing,” said Larrick, who found the same thing in his study of vehicles. Switching from a gas-guzzling SUV to a more efficient SUV saves more fuel than going from a compact car to a hybrid that gets 50 miles per gallon.