Robert Atkins is turning in his grave.
His low-carb diet, based on keeping the carbs down and the protein up, has been given a whole new meaning—and it calls for less beef. Low carb is now shorthand for low carbon, as in, food with a small CO2 footprint.
And that means minimal methane, too—the stuff cows fart out after consuming corn-fed diets.
The low-carbon diet is designed to highlight the connection between our food and the environment—a link that is inextricably tied, but not necessarily considered by the average consumer. Foods included on the Don't Eat list? Fruits that have traveled from other continents by plane, or meats with a huge carbon impact (like the gassy cattle mentioned above).
The low-carbon diet is not really as extreme as it sounds. Sure, you'll have to give up your South Asian rose apple for dessert, but really, this style of eating was the norm 100 or so years ago. Chicken, for example, can be substituted for beef. Locally grown fruits and veggies are fair game.
Creating cuisine to meet the carbon demands is a challenge to chefs, calling on a creative mindset to work around the ways of the current American food system—such as large-scale factory farms and international sourcing.
Bon Appétit, a food services company that provides meals to corporate clients such as Nordstrom and DreamWorks, launched its low-carbon diet three years ago as a component of its quest to be sustainable. According to the Seattle Times:
...the company launched its Low Carbon Diet, a commitment that includes reducing food waste, auditing energy and water efficiency in kitchens, sourcing nearly all fruits, vegetables, meats and water from North America, and educating guests with science-based research about the link between food and climate change.
Food for thought? Yes. And conversation.
Misteraitch/Creative Commons via Flickr