Low-Carbon Diet

Reducing climate change through food choices

Global warming has become front-page news as scientists, policymakers and ordinary citizens debate what can be done to reduce its harmful effects. Remarkably, the connection between food and climate change is rarely discussed, even though research shows that agriculture and the food system overall is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, and dietary choices can equal the difference between driving an efficient sedan versus a large SUV. Bon Appétit Management Company is changing the national conversation and encouraging our chefs and guests to think about how their food choices could help reduce climate change.

After reviewing scientific literature and analyzing the supply chain for certain foods, we designed the Low Carbon Diet program. Our goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by the highest impact areas of our business by 25%. To achieve this, we have given our staff and guests meaningful tools to evaluate the global warming potential of different food choices.

The Low Carbon Diet is a three-year project involving:

With the Low Carbon Diet, we are taking responsibility for the connection between food and global warming.

Read the Low Carbon Diet Q&A

Low-Carbon Diet at Oberlin

Oberlin College has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2025. Part of our carbon footprint comes from food sourcing, preparation, and disposal. We are always considering ways to minimize these effects and make our food system more environmentally friendly.

CDS staff and Oberlin College students have identified multiple areas of concern:

Providing Information at Dining Halls

Menu labels in our dining halls highlight low-carbon food options. Guests who want to reduce their own carbon footprint can follow these guides to choose alternatives to high-carbon foods. For eaxmple, for diners who accept that beef is high-carbon but still want to eat the occasional burger, the Low Carbon Diet will demonstrate how to make it more eco-friendly: skip the cheese, the bacon and swap out of season lettuce and tomato for a tasty lower carbon alternative like grilled onions.

Packaging Waste

Kitchen Scraps and Food Waste Audit